The evidence-based calming strategy was developed from experiments conducted in Japan and Italy, which were analyzed and published in the journal Current Biology on Tuesday.

The authors of the paper hope that the discovery can benefit stressed parents, especially inexperienced ones.

“I raised four children,” senior author Kumi Kuroda of the RIKEN Brain Science Center in Japan said in a video statement.

“But even I couldn’t have predicted the main results of this study until the statistics came out,” she added.

The team previously studied the “transport response” in mammals that give birth to young that are unable to care for themselves, such as mice, dogs, monkeys and humans.

When these animals pick up their babies and start walking, the babies become quiet and docile, and their heartbeat slows down.

Kuroda and his colleagues wanted to study this in more detail in humans and compare the effect to other comforting behaviors, such as rocking in one place.

They recruited 21 mother-infant pairs aged 0-7 months and tested them in four conditions: carried while moving, motionless with the mother sitting, lying in a stationary crib, or lying in a rocking crib.

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Crying decreased and heart rates slowed for 30 seconds when the babies were transported. There was a similar effect when they were rocked, but not when they were held still.

This suggests that, contrary to assumptions, maternal restraint was not sufficient to soothe the infant, and the response to transport was an important factor.

They then looked at the effects of carrying the babies for five minutes, finding that the activity put 46 percent of them to sleep, and another 18 percent fell asleep a minute later.

It showed that wearing it not only stopped crying, but also promoted sleep.

But there was a wrinkle: When the babies were put to sleep, more than one-third were alert for 20 seconds.

Electrocardiogram readings showed that the babies’ heart rates increased every second they were separated from their mothers.

However, if the babies slept for a longer period of time before being put down, they were less likely to wake up.

Kuroda said she found this strange as she thought other factors like how they were placed in the bed or their posture would make a difference, but it didn’t.

“Our intuition is very limited, so we need science,” she said.

Based on the totality of their findings, they recommended a protocol for soothing and improving sleep: hold and walk the baby for five minutes, then sit and hold the baby for another five to eight minutes before putting him to sleep.

This provides immediate comfort unlike other methods, such as letting your baby cry it out at bedtime, but more work is needed to see if it can train your baby to sleep in the long term.

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