Carrying a baby while walking is the best way to calm him down, scientists say

Scientists say carrying a baby while walking is the best way to calm them down


WASHINGTON | It's an experience shared by almost all parents: the frustration of a crying baby who refuses to sleep. 

Researchers have decided to help them , by scientifically determining which of four commonly used methods proves to be the most effective in calming an infant, inconsolable for no apparent reason.

According to their study, published Tuesday in the journal Current Biology, walking for five minutes while wearing a baby in his arms can do wonders.

But before resting the baby in bed, scientists recommend keeping the child still in his arms for another five to eight minutes.

< p>“I raised four children,” said the study's lead author, Kumi Kuroda, of the RIKEN Center for Brain Science in Japan. “But even I couldn't anticipate the key findings from this study until the statistical data came in.”

The research team had in the past studied a similar mechanism in animals: when the little ones (dogs, monkeys, etc.) have to be transported, for example to escape a threat, their heart rate tends to drop and they become more docile.

To compare a possible similar reaction in humans, the scientists studied 21 babies between zero and seven months, with their mother.

Four techniques were analyzed: carrying the infant while walking, carrying while sitting, laying in bed, or laying in moving crib.

When babies were carried while walking, their heart rate dropped within 30 seconds, just like in a rocking crib — but not when they stood still.

After five minutes, walking the 'baby-in-arms helped all children stop crying, and almost half of them fall asleep.

But once rested in bed, babies had tend to wake up, within 20 seconds for more than a third of them.

And the way they were laid down — posture or delicacy of movement — had no impact on this effect.

The solution according to scientists: extend the time the baby is asleep before resting him, by sitting down and keeping him close to you for five to eight minutes after walking.

This period more or less corresponds to the duration of the first phase of sleep, then still light, notes the study.

“We need science to understand the s behaviors of a baby,” concluded Kumi Kuroda, “because they are much more diverse and complex than we thought.”