Researchers Suggest A Walk-Sit Routine For Getting A Baby To Sleep

Japanese researchers have discovered a unique formula to help parents get the sleep of a crying infant.

Recent studies in Current Biology suggest that caregivers who carry a crying infant for five minutes and sit with them for eight minutes can successfully soothe the child and possibly get them to sleep.

EKG machines and video cameras measured infant heart rates and behavior when caregivers carried, held and pushed crying infants in strollers. A child’s heart rate decreases if they are taken for five minutes. It increases the child’s heart rate if the caregiver stops walking or turns abruptly while holding the child.

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An eight-minute walk with a crying baby in your arms, followed by holding them while sitting still, helps them sleep.

Study results showed the four-minute walk and eight-minute sit routine only worked if the baby was crying – it did not work when the baby was already calm.

Dr. Kumi O. Kuroda, the researcher, told TODAY Parents, “People don’t study parenting issues too much in this field, but ordinary people suffer. It is an important issue that is not really of researchers.”

German researchers studied 4,600 parents in 2019 and found many won’t sleep well for six years after their child is born.

Kuroda says the study isn’t meant to discourage parents from trying other methods. She urged parents to use “all their options.”

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The study also highlights the significance of “transport response” — infants feel different when carried by a caregiver compared to when a parent rocked their child to sleep or held their infant while stationary.

She explained, “Generally, the infant plateaued after walking. Even when infants are sleeping, they’re aware of motion changes. For example, if their mother turns.”

To “stabilize their sleep,” Kuroda emphasized the importance of continuously walking with an infant for five minutes, then sitting with them for five to eight minutes.

She said, “The first five to eight minutes of sleep is shallow sleep,” she explained. So if you immediately place their infant down after they’re asleep, you’ll hit the shallow sleep, they’ll wake up, and you’ll be unsuccessful.