The science-backed trick to cease a child crying


The arrival of an infant can be accompanied by many challenges for its parents, including the anxiety of not being able to calm its crying. With broken and worried hearts, they can then find themselves testing several techniques that are not always effective. Based on the observation that « 20 to 30% of infants cry excessively and have sleep disorders, creating parental stress and can even, in rare cases, be the cause of child abuse », Japanese researchers set out to find an effective solution to help babies stop crying. And not content with stopping the tears, the method they have devised also makes it possible to put the little ones to sleep!

How to help babies stop crying? Here’s what the science says!

For this work published on September 13 in the journal Current Biology, researchers at the Riken Institute’s Brain Science Center in Wako, near Tokyo (Japan) first reviewed previous publications that focused on nesting mammals. In all these animals, the young are indeed unable to manage themselves. They then collected observational data from 21 babies aged 0 to 7 months and their mothers. This second step aimed toanalyze and compare four techniques for falling asleep used on crying babies: the child carried by the mother while sitting, walking, pushed in a moving stroller or lying in a static bed.

baby crying crying tears
Credits: iStock

These analyzes have been rich in lessons for scientists. In particular, they concluded that let the baby cry or rock him in a static position was not effective in soothing them. The best results were with babies who stayed in the arms of a moving parent. The specialists explain that this method of appeasement observed in mammals such as the cat, the tiger, the dog or the monkey makes it possible to naturally slow the heart rate of children.

According to the researchers, the optimal strategy is to walk for five minutes with the child on you. on a flat and clear passage, without sharp turns as they put it. Staying in motion will allow the baby to  » set his heart rate to that of the person holding it, which will rock him « , an innate reaction in mammals that is commonly called a  » transport response » Then, and even if the infant has dozed off, Japanese researchers recommend keeping him on his person for five to eight minutes longer before putting him in his crib. They found that for a third of the babies in the study, skipping this stage caused a sudden awakening within twenty seconds of getting back to bed.

scientific technique to stop baby crying
Credits: Riken Institute, Current Biology. September 2022.

Calming babies: everyone has their own method, but ignorance is not one of them!

This encouraging study for tired parents (and their babies!) should not make us forget a reality: each baby is different and there is no no single recipe. An older British study, for example, revealed that white, regular and monotonous noises (rain, hair dryer, etc.) could be effective in calming babies. in 80% of cases. Also, do not hesitate to test several methods to find the right one for your little one.

In any case, both pediatricians and scientists often agree on the same conclusion: ignoring babies is not the solution to stop the crying and does not allow the little ones to become more independent. Doctors indeed explain that babies who cry do not have a whim (emotions they do not feel and that adults tend to mistakenly model on them). The cries always express a need and if it is not that of being fed, washed, put to bed or cared for, it may well be that of emotional security. It is therefore necessary to console them and put them in confidence.

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