Study: Pacing up and down can help pacify your crying baby
Why do crying babies calm down as soon as you get up and start pacing?
Most new parents would agree that infants just don’t seem to like it when you sit down. To stop their little darlings from throwing tiny tantrums, parents are often forced to get up and constantly march back and forth across the room. Is this the only solution? How to stop a baby from crying all the time?
Babies feel pacified when parents stand up. The reason for this is absolutely fascinating and stems from evolution.
Babies have in them a primitive “flight response” that can be traced back to prehistoric times when humans were in a constant struggle to stay safe from predators. So, in this light, it makes more sense to an infant to be still and not interfere with the “flight” when you are standing up with them and ready to run.
This has been recently confirmed by a new study.
Research published in Current Biology observed how human and mouse mothers tried to pacify their cranky newborns.
The authors of this research shared, “The infant calming response to maternal carrying is a coordinated set of central, motor, and cardiac regulations. Infants under six months of age carried by a walking mother immediately stopped voluntary movement and crying and exhibited a rapid heart rate decrease. The calming responses may increase the survival probability of the infant in cases of emergency escape by the mother-infant dyad.”
Twelve healthy babies were attached with ECGs. The researchers tried various positions like putting the baby in a crib, sitting with the baby or walking with the baby for around 30 seconds.
They found out that the little ones were happiest when the mums were walking. On the other hand, when mums were sitting, the babies were peeved, and they were totally miserable when in the crib. The heart rate of babies relaxed every time the mum stood up.
Take a look at this interesting video that confirms the findings.
The experts stated: “Heart rate variability analyses revealed that [heart rate decrease] was significantly higher during carrying than during holding. This data suggests that infants were more relaxed during carrying than during holding, not only behaviourally but also physiologically.”
Scientists found a similar behaviour in mice too. Baby mice calmed down when mummy mice held them by the napes of their necks. This made sense because similar to human babies, when baby mice wiggled or went limp, it was getting difficult for the mothers to hold on to them.
Take a look at this video of mummy mouse rescuing her babies. You will notice that when one of her babies went limp, she had to put in more effort to rescue the baby. She made more attempts to bring it out.
According to researchers, it is part of evolution that babies calm down when held. This is mainly because holding a calm baby is easier and makes for a quicker escape in case of danger.
The researchers shared, “A scientific understanding of this physiological infant response could prevent parents from overreacting to infant crying. Such understanding would be beneficial to parents by reducing frustration, because un-soothing cries is a major risk factor for child abuse.”
So, whether your little one is crying because of a painful vaccine or a scary thunderstorm, you can take a walk to soothe your baby, knowing that this will calm them down.