Walking and holding followed by sitting and holding is the best method to help crying infants fall asleep

Clinical Question

What is the best method to help crying infants fall asleep?

Bottom line

The difficulty in getting a young infant to sleep, and the resulting parental trauma, is universally known. According to this small study, the best approach to a crying infant seems to be walking while holding the baby for 5 minutes followed by another 5 to 8 minutes of sitting and holding the baby before placing the baby in a bed. Just sitting with a crying baby did not calm them, and you can forget about putting a crying baby directly into a bed. The authors cite a transport (calming) response common in mammal species in which infants are born helpless — think of a docile kitten carried by the nape by its mother — as an explanation. 4

Study design: Cross-over trial (randomized)

Funding: Foundation

Setting: Other


Allen F. Shaughnessy, PharmD, MMedEd
Professor of Family Medicine
Tufts University
Boston, MA

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