One of the hardest things about being a new parent is how to quell the cries of a newborn. Since crying is their only way of communicating needs, babies cry constantly and this can be extremely distressing for the parents.
Of course the best way is to deal with what the baby needs, such as food or changing their diaper, but the cause is not always clear. Most parents use the traditional method of picking the baby up and slowly patting or rubbing the baby’s back. By patting at a similar beat to the mother’s heartbeat, the baby feels at ease as it reminds it of the relaxing state within the womb.
There are some other less conventional methods that have been shown to work. For example, turning the vacuum cleaner on or any other white noise (such as the washing machine, rustling a plastic bag or even gargling water in your mouth) has an instant effect of stopping the baby’s cries (NB: usually only works on infants below 3 months of age). The reason being, these noises are at a similar frequency to the noises the baby hears in the womb, such as the mother’s guts moving, blood flowing through the vessels and sounds from the outsides being transmitted through the mother. As the brain remembers such relaxing states for the fist few months, these stimuli induce a relaxing response and calm the baby.
Similarly, turning on rock & roll music (not too loudly) calms the baby in the first few months as they are unable to recognise the words but can still feel the vibration from the rhythm, which again reminds the baby of the womb.
The same principle can be used to simulate other features of womb life. Rocking the baby slowly simulates the sensation when the mother is walking, wrapping the baby in a blanket simulates the warmth and cosy nature of the womb and giving the baby something to suck on like a pacifier induces the powerful sucking reflex which calms the baby.
As a last resort, touching the inside of the ear canal with your little finger causes the baby to become confused about the strange sensation, distracting the baby. Although this method is effective up to 24 months, it is not recommended as it can lead to an ear infection.
On a similar note, when a baby or young child is stubbornly holding on to something, the best method to get it back is for the mother to pretend that they are crying. The child, empathising with the mother and not wanting her to be sad, yields the object in their hand to make her happy. But this method may not work after a while when the child realises you are tricking them.