In a study that originated from the RIKEN Brain Science Institute in Saitama, Japan, a research team has found biological data that a mother cradling and rocking a crying baby in her arms to calm the child down is backed by scientific evidence. The study shows that the heart rate of crying babies significantly calm down when put in their mother’s arms and moved about.
Initially, Dr. Kumi Kuroda and her research team at the RIKEN Institute found the same behavioral trait in young mouse pups. They then postulated that the same response in human babies is probably caused by a trait that is common – especially to mammals – and handed down the evolutionary chain. “From humans to mice, mammalian infants become calm and relaxed when they are carried by their mother. This infant response reduces the maternal burden of carrying and is beneficial for both the mother and the infant,” Dr. Kuroda said. The study, now published in the scientific community journal Current Biology, also showed that apart from the slowing of heart rate, a mother’s rocking of her baby activated movement detectors in the child’s nervous system, showing that the act of rocking the baby triggers a natural response in the infant’s sensorimotor system.
A scientific knowledge and background on why babies are likely to calm down when carried helps a lot in family dynamics, Dr. Kuroda said, especially to avoid cases of child abuse, as parents usually get frustrated when babies are agitated and crying for long periods of time. “A scientific understanding of this infant response will save parents from misreading the restart of crying as the intention of the infant to control the parents, as some parenting theories such as the ‘cry it out’ type of strategy suggests,” she added.
[via Belfast Telegraph]