Mothers have been instinctively picking up their crying babies and rocking them since the beginning of recorded history. However, until recently, there was no scientific basis behind this practice. Fortunately, a team of scientists in Japan have recently studied this phenomenon, and they have discovered that rocking a baby reduces their heart rate, and this can give them an important sense of comfort.
The study also indicated that babies do not receive this positive benefit if they are simply being held in a stationary position. Therefore, it is always best to rock a crying child to help soothe them.
Other Methods for Soothing a Baby
Now that it has been proven that rocking has an actual impact on their heart, it is important to put aside methods that ignore the baby’s need for a rocking motion. For example, if you have tried to let your baby cry it out, other than rocking, you can rub their tummy, their back or sing to them.
In reality you won’t be able to pick up your infant every single time they cry. Consider using a baby bouncer to free up your arms; the gentle motion will imitate the sensation of being rocked by one of their parents, and it should help your child’s heart rate slow down. Additionally, you can put them in a baby sling to help soothe them due to the natural movements that accompany everyday tasks such as doing housework.
Why does Rocking Reduce Babies Heart Rate?
According to scientists, the rocking motion causes the baby’s nervous system to activate movement detectors within the cerebellum. In other words, the experience of being rocked and bounced prompts an involuntary response in the infant’s body that is likely linked to the ancient need for a baby to feel secure without making a lot of noise.
Keep in mind that the early descendants of man lived outside, and making too much noise would give their position away to predators. Fortunately, the body has a built-in response mechanism to the simple act of being rocked, and this definitely helps explain why so many babies will stop crying almost instantaneously when they are bounced properly. In fact, research also indicates that this process is the same in a variety of animals. In other words, if you have a kitten or puppy that keeps crying, you should try rocking them to help calm them down.
Unfortunately, some infants are simply fussier than others, and issues such as colic can also complicate matters. Even the best parents will not be able to hold their child 24/7, nor is it a good idea to make a practice of this. Based on the needs of you and your child, you will have to make a judgment call that best fits both your needs at the time.
Teresa Stewart enjoys learning the science behind parenting behaviors. During research into rocking, she found that an automated baby bouncer which imitates rocking will provide infants with relief and a sense of security while giving parents a break.