That’s a challenge that every brand-new parent faces: You’ve finally gotten some shut-eye, but your baby’s cries over the monitor have you wide awake again. You’ve probably already bounced, rocked, swayed, sung to, and swaddled your baby to no avail.

While “crying it out” and leaving the baby to self-soothe is supported by the majority of studies, a recent study published on September 13, 2022, recommends an alternative approach. The study, published in Current Biology, presents the transport reaction as a means “to soothe and encourage sleep.” It’s made to aid parents in getting their kids to sleep again after being awake.

What Parents Have Discovered to Be the “Trick” to Putting a Sobbing Infant Back to Sleep

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The study found that the likelihood of the infant falling asleep while being carried for five minutes while moving around was far higher than the risk of the baby falling asleep while sitting still. The only catch is that the caretaker needs to sit with the infant for an extra five to eight minutes afterward before putting them to bed. Scientists claim this reduces the subject’s chances of regaining consciousness.

21 moms and their infants, aged 0-7 months, participated in the study. As moms attempted four different strategies for putting their newborns back to sleep, researchers monitored their infants’ heart rates and behaviors using electrocardiograms and video cameras. These varied approaches included walking while holding the baby, sitting with the baby in your lap, setting the baby down in a bassinet, and using a stroller. Heart rate data was then matched with the newborns’ actions, such as whether they were asleep, attentive, or crying.

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All the babies calmed down, and 45.5% fell asleep after five minutes while being carried and walked, proving that this method was the most efficient in putting an end to the wailing. To add insult to injury, 18.2% of the newborns were awake when they stopped crying but fell asleep in their mothers’ arms during the minute that followed. This suggests that after only a few minutes, the newborns’ initial shallow sleep stabilizes.

This study suggests that walking with a fussy infant for five minutes can help them fall back to sleep because it puts them in close physical proximity to their caretaker, which has a calming impact. However, it is said that if a baby is put into a bassinet or crib too soon after falling asleep, it will wake up. Waiting 5-8 minutes (until the baby is in a deep sleep) is recommended instead.

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What pediatricians have long suspected to be true, that walking with a newborn simulates the movements experienced in utero, is given a more scientifically rigorous demonstration in this study. This is a fascinating study since it looks at and lends credence to something that many mothers—even brand-new ones—do instinctively.

The results, which revealed that walking while carrying a wailing child helped to calm the baby, make intuitive sense. Babies…often find solace in this motion, and observation of physiological responses outside the womb, such as heart rate, corroborate this observation. The closeness of a mother’s embrace might also remind a child of being in the womb.

Should I put my baby to sleep using the “cry it out” technique?

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Although the cry-it-out technique was not compared to other strategies for calming a fussy baby, a 2016 study concluded that it is effective. Cry-it-out proponents are adamant that their method works, and studies have shown that after the first few nights of difficulty, newborns sleep better on their own. Babies in the cry-it-out group slept an extra 20 minutes per night, as reported by the study. Cry therapy may be for you if you’re willing to try something new and don’t mind your child crying before you soothe them.

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Despite proof of its effectiveness, this technique may not be the best. When parents are at their wits’ end and need a rapid solution (that will work within four or three days) to maintain their sanity and avoid serious mishaps, I advise utilizing a cry-it-out method.

Otherwise, parents should keep in mind that each child is unique, and what works for one child may not work for another. As a result, [parents] should do their homework and experiment to find what works best for their family.

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Even if this study offers a fresh technique for putting babies to sleep, it boils down to what works best for your infant and what you’re comfortable with. It’s possible that you’ll utilize the cry-it-out approach, the four S method, and the walking with the baby method at different points in your journey to calming your baby. If you do this, you’ll be able to see how your infant reacts to each stimulus.

This study only included 21 women. Thus additional data may be needed to evaluate the walking with infant strategy’s genuine efficacy. If you’re worried about your child’s sleep, see a pediatrician.

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