How to Help Your Baby Go to Sleep
There is an age-old problem - and that is how to get your baby to fall asleep without too much fuss and bother.
The good news is that now scientists believe they have identified the best way to calm a crying baby, ensuring they fall asleep in their cot in just thirteen minutes.
What is their method?
- This method involves walking around for five minutes while carrying the baby, minimizing any abrupt movements.
- This is followed by sitting holding the baby for some eight minutes.
- Then finally laying the baby down in the cot for sleep.
Why is this method different?
Unlike other popular sleep training methods, such as letting babies cry until they fall asleep themselves, this one offers an immediate solution for infant crying.
Heading the research was Dr Kumi Kuroda of the RIKEN Centre for Brain Science in Japan (and one of the authors of the paper published in the journal Current Biology) and she said:
"Many parents suffer from babies' night-time crying. It is such a big issue especially for inexperienced parents and can lead to parental stress - and even to infant maltreatment in a small number of cases."
What did the research involve?
The research involved a series of sleep-based experiments with twenty-one infants from birth to seven months - and their mothers.
Four different approaches to soothe crying babies were tested:
- Being held by their walking mothers.
- Being held by their sitting mothers.
- Lying in a still cot.
- Lying in a rocking cot.
What was the result?
The research team found that when the mother walked while carrying the baby, they calmed down quite quickly with their heart rate slowing within thirty seconds.
A calming effect was also noticed when babies were placed in rocking cots but not when the mother held the baby while sitting or when they placed the baby in a still cot.
The researchers say that these findings appear to contradict "that traditional assumption that maternal holding reduces infant distress."
However, when the mothers tried to put their sleepy babies to bed after short walks, a third of them became alert again within twenty seconds.
After further testing, the team found that if the babies were sleepy or asleep for a longer period - that is for at least eight minutes or so - before being laid down, they were less likely to wake up during the process.
The researchers concluded that sleeping babies can rest better in a bed than in their mothers' arms. Dr. Kuroda was surprised at this result! She said: "Even as a mother of four, I was very surprised to see the result."