(NEXSTAR) — Are you at your wit’s end trying to calm your baby? Good news: researchers say they’ve cracked the code on how to soothe fussy infants who won’t stop crying.
In the peer-reviewed study published by Current Biology, 21 infants were tested in 32 sessions using four different methods of soothing to get them back in their cribs peacefully. Overwhelmingly, researchers say, the winning process was what they call “5-Minute Carrying, 5- to 8-Minute Sitting.”
Here’s how it works, according to the study:
- With the baby in your arms, walk around for five minutes. Researchers say the lulling movement soothes crying and promotes sleep in babies.
- Before placing the baby down for sleep, sit with them in your arms for five to eight minutes. The stop-start motion helps prevent infants from waking after being laid down, researchers say.
Other methods tried on the babies included WalkHold (parent holds an infant and walks around); SitHold (parent holds an infant and sits); COT (infant was laid in a cot); and MCOT (infant placed in mobile crib or stroller and rocked back and forth). Researchers say these methods produced mixed results.
While some of the methods soothed initially, they didn’t help the return to the crib. Others helped infants get to their cribs peacefully but didn’t keep them asleep, according to the study.
For new parents, long bouts of crying — especially in the middle of a sleep-deprived night — can be among the top challenges with a new baby. The American Academy of Pediatrics says babies typically don’t have regular sleep cycles until around 4 months. And although newborns sleep up to 16-17 hours per day, it’s only in 1-2 hour increments, AAP says.
“About 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 write.
Authors said they hope their work is substantiated with even more studies.
Meanwhile, AAP recommends a few behaviors to help babies sleep through the night, including making sure babies stay awake for longer periods of the day. Additionally, parents should make nighttime feeding times and interactions quieter, whispering if necessary.