Crying babies—they’re a fact of life for new parents.
It’s great if you’ve got the magic touch and can calm baby right when the bawling begins, but wouldn’t it be better to keep ’em happier 24/7?
The answer is simpler than you might think: All you have to do is wear—or hold—your baby. Researchers have found that when parents keep their babies close (held in your arms or kangaroo-style) for at least 3 hours a day, newborns cry and fuss an astounding 43% less than the control group. So how did they make it happen? Did these parents just have the magic touch? Were the kids simply snoozing for longer? Not quite.
Toting the kid around, it turns out, helps mom tune in to a newborn’s needs better than if they were farther away. If baby is fussing from across the room, it’s harder to pick up on those cues than if your bundle of joy is riding shotgun. As Dr. Hunziker and Dr. Barr from The McGill University-Montreal Children’s Hospital Research Institute note, “the increase in carrying . . . predisposed these mothers to detecting their infant’s demands and to shortening the response time to infant distress, thereby facilitating a more synchronous mother-infant interaction.”
In other words, keep your baby close so you can give them the attention they need before they start fussing.
Why are all of those subtle signals communicated better during babywearing? The link between baby and mother is a complex, physiological duet, and occurs across all of the senses. It’s that much easier to smell, listen, touch and see for everyone when you stick close together.
So how long, exactly, do you need to carry your sack of potatoes around to bring that extra ounce of zen to your life? While initial studies suggested a minimum of 3 hours of close contact was beneficial, recent science suggests that 9 or more hours (or several sleep cycles of your baby) is an even healthier amount of time. Whether you’re attacking that to-do list or just taking a break on the couch, keeping your baby close helps everyone stay happy and connected.
Hunziker, Urs A., and Ronald G. Barr. “Increased Carrying Reduces Infant Crying: A Randomized Controlled Trial.” Aaapublications.org. Pediatrics, n.d. Web. 25 Jan. 2016.