A 5-Minute Walk Should Soothe a Crying Baby

Medscape Staff

December 02, 2022

From experiments conducted by the RIKEN Center for Brain Science in Japan to understand babies' behaviors, researchers recommend that parents hold crying infants and walk with them for 5 minutes, then sit and hold them for 5 to 8 minutes before putting them to bed.

What to Know

  • The "transport response" is an innate reaction exhibited by many species of animals, including humans, in which the immature who are unable to care for themselves become docile and their heart rates slow when they are held and walked.

  • Crying infants tend to calm down and their heart rates slow within 30 seconds of being walked by their mothers. Similar results occur when they are placed in a rocking cot.

  • Infants being held while their mother is still or who are placed in a crib do not experience the heart rate reduction and soothing, whereas movement not only calms but often triggers sleep, especially when the holding and walking motions continue for 5 minutes.

  • Babies generally produce physiologic responses, including changes in heart rate, that can wake them the second their bodies become detached from their mothers. The longer infants were asleep before being laid down, the less likely they were to awaken. The researchers estimate that the ideal period for holding the baby while asleep is 5 to 8 minutes.

  • The protocol, unlike other popular sleep training approaches, such as letting infants cry until they fall asleep, aims to provide an immediate solution for infant crying.

This is a summary of the article, "A Method to Soothe and Promote Sleep in Crying Infants Utilizing the Transport Response," published in Current Biology on September 13, 2022. The full article can be found on cell.com.

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