0 - 12 Months

Walking calms babies more than being held

Mother holding baby

Crying is part of life with a baby. Infants cry to communicate—and sometimes they communicate a lot 🙂

You may have already noticed that walking with your baby calms them. Researchers at the Riken Brain Science Institute in Japan took a close look to understand why.

The study setup

In this small, preliminary study, babies between 1 and 6 months were monitored in three scenarios: 

  1. Lying alone in a crib
  2. Being held (stationary) by their mothers
  3. Being carried as their mothers walked

The results

Researchers found that the babies’ crying and heart rate rose when they were in the cribs alone. Crying and heart rate decreased somewhat when their mothers sat down and held them, but decreased much more dramatically when the mother walked around, holding their baby. 

The researchers determined that the babies’ parasympathetic nervous system activity—the part of the nervous system that brings the body back to a state of calm—was higher when they were carried.

4 takeaways for parents

  1. You can soothe your baby by rubbing or holding them, but walking as you hold them may be the most effective way to calm them.
  2. Remember the holding-and-walking combination in situations that always elicit stress and crying. For instance, if your baby has to get a shot or a heel prick, walk around the room with them afterward. 
  3. Remember this form of comfort too when your baby is crying and you have no idea why. Just having something to try can relieve your stress. 
  4. If your baby doesn’t stop crying, rest assured that you’ve tried a research-backed technique, and consider letting another caregiver take a turn ❤️

Learn more about the research

Esposito, G., Yoshida, S., Ohnishi, R., Tsuneoka, Y., del Carmen Rostagno, M., Yokota, S., … & Kuroda, K. O. (2013). Infant calming responses during maternal carrying in humans and mice. Current Biology, 23(9), 739-745.


Team Lovevery Avatar

Team Lovevery

Visit site

Posted in: 0 - 12 Months, Behavior, Lovevery App, Bonding, Social Emotional, Newborn Care, Sensory Development, Child Development

Keep reading