The 8-minute hack to stop a crying baby, according to scientists

This 8-minute hack will soothe a crying baby and its been backed by scientists.

8-minute hack to soothe crying baby
(Image credit: Getty)

Parents have been given an eight-minute hack to help them soothe a crying baby, and it's scientifically backed.

When it comes to parenting, everyone has a different method of soothing their crying child, whether it be giving them a dummy, their favourite teddy bear, by picking them up briefly before setting them back to sleep or trying the controlled crying method.

But now there's a better way of getting a baby to settle in just eight minutes and its scientifically backed.

According to scientists at the Riken Center for Brain Science in Saitama, Japan have discovered that walking around, then sitting down and holding baby for up to eight minutes appears to be the most effective technique.  

Researchers have conducted a series of experiments to find out which approach to wailing infants settles them the best, and as part of the study they filmed parents responding to their crying babies by using a mixture of methods from cuddling their babies, carrying them around, rocking them in a pushchair and laying them down.

Sharing their findings in Current Biology, the team recommend; 

  1. Parents pick up their crying baby 
  2. Walk around with them in their arms for five minutes without any abrupt stops or sudden changes in direction
  3. Sitting down again and holding them for five to eight minutes, 
  4. Before laying them back down again.

8 minute hack to soothe crying baby

(Image credit: Getty)

Dr Kumi Kuroda explained, "Excessive crying, especially during the night-time, is shown to be a major source of parental stress. This roughly 15-minute method is worth trying before they start seriously worrying about what’s wrong with the baby.”

In order to collect data as part of the experiment, researchers used video recordings and heart monitors to rank the four different approaches - 1. holding the child while seated, 2. Putting them in a cot, 3. holding them while walking, and 4. rocking them in a pushchair or similar. 

Results from the experiments were analysed and they noticed that crying reduced only when babies were in motion - by either being rocked or carried around. While sitting with them or putting them in a cot did noting to stop the tears.

All of the wailing babies had stopped crying after five minutes of being carried around and nearly half of these had fallen asleep. But this method wasn't complete as those whose babies settled soon woke again when they were put back to bed.

But what they did notice from analysing the heart monitor data is that sitting with the sleeping baby for five to eight minutes after walking around so they fell into a deeper stage of sleep seemed to help the most.

But Dr Betty Hutchon at the Brazelton Centre UK, warned about the limits of using this technique alone. She said, "Crying is an important and normal communication method for babies – crying gives your baby a voice. Babies have different cries for different needs such as tiredness, discomfort, hunger or wanting to be held and played with. Over time parents learn through trial and error and experience what each cry means. 

She added, "There is no one answer or strategy that suits all crying babies’ needs at all times – different responses will be appropriate at different times.”

Selina Maycock
Senior Family Writer

Selina is a Senior Family Writer for GoodtoKnow and has more than 16 years years of experience. She specialises in royal family news, including the latest activities of Prince George, Charlotte, Louis, Archie and Lilibet. She also covers the latest government, health and charity advice for families. Selina graduated from the University of Sheffield in 2006 with a degree in Journalism, and gained her NCTJ and NCE qualifications. During her career, she’s also written for Woman, Woman's Own, Woman&Home, and Woman's Weekly as well as Heat magazine, Bang Showbiz - and the Scunthorpe Telegraph. When she's not covering family news, you can find her exploring new countryside walking routes, catching up with friends over good food, or making memories (including award-winning scarecrows!)