• Researchers looked at four conditions to soothe crying babies
  • Carrying them and walking for five minutes calmed them
  • Researchers propose the "5-min carrying, 5- to 8- min sitting scheme"

Are you one of the many parents who have struggled to calm crying infants? A new study has found the best way to soothe crying infants in just minutes.

For their study, published Tuesday in the journal Current Biology, researchers examined how parents can soothe their crying infants.

"Approximately 20%–30% of infants cry excessively and exhibit sleep difficulties for no apparent reason, causing parental stress and even triggering impulsive child maltreatment in a small number of cases," the researchers wrote. "While several sleep training methods or parental education programs may provide long-term improvement of infant cry and sleep problems, there is yet to be a conclusive recommendation for on-site behavioral interventions."

Researchers previously found that carrying babies in your arms can help stop their crying through what's called the "transport response." This was seen in other mammals such as dogs, monkeys and mice as the method can soothe them and slow their heart rates, Cell Press noted in a news release.

The team looked at four conditions to calm crying babies: mother holding the infant and walking, mother holding the baby and sitting, placing the infant in a still cot and placing the child in a rocking mobile crib. They looked at responses from 21 participants.

Incredibly, it was found that carrying crying infants and walking calmed the babies and slowed their heart rates in just 30 seconds. The results were similar for the rocking mobile crib method.

The effects of the walking motion were even more evident when it was prolonged for five minutes as all babies stopped crying and a half even fell asleep.

"Five-minute carrying promoted sleep for crying infants even in the daytime when these infants were usually awake, but not for non-crying infants," the researchers wrote.

Researchers were of the impression that laying babies down on the bed slowly would help keep them remain asleep. But it may not be just about how the parents do it. It also matters how long the babies have been asleep. This would decide whether laying them down would interrupt or deepen the babies' sleep.

When the sleepy babies were placed on the bed, the infants were alerted by the sudden detachment from their moms. In fact, many of them became alert within seconds. But if the caregiver waits for a while before laying them down, it lessens the chances of awakening the infant.

"Even as a mother of four, I was very surprised to see the result. I thought baby awoke during a laydown is related to how they're put on the bed, such as their posture, or the gentleness of the movement," said corresponding author Kumi Kuroda, of the RIKEN Center for Brain Science in Japan. "But our experiment did not support these general assumptions."

The team suggests the "5-min carrying, 5- to 8- min sitting scheme" is the best strategy to soothe a crying infant. This involves carrying the infant and walking for five minutes, then sitting and holding them for five to eight more minutes before laying them down.

Hence, the "traditional" idea of simply holding babies to soothe them may not actually be sufficient. Instead, it's the movements that could "activate" the transport response.

The researchers noted that their study is "exploratory" and requires confirmation, preferably with larger samples and other conditions. However, they say it shows a "proof of concept" of how transport can soothe crying babies and even promote sleep.

"(T)his protocol does not address any long-term improvement of sleep regulation," the researchers wrote. "This protocol instead provides an immediate calming of infant cry and may be useful especially on special occasions when the regular sleep routines, breastfeeding, or pacifiers are not effective or available."

Representation. Pixabay-fancycrave1