I was attending a university lecture this week directed toward junior-level students studying infants. I was the only mother in the room, but I think a several others were also a little surprised when the opening topic of the lecture was "How to Calm a Crying Baby." I chuckled as I recalled all the times my babies have fussed and I'd tried everything I could think of to calm them down. My babies love to be swaddled and to be rocked. Of course both of those were on the list along with diaper changes, feedings, singing, pacifiers, and changing positions of the baby.
I was beginning to wonder if this lecture would be worth my time when the instructor went off on a tangent about rocking. He shared some pretty interesting information that I thought I'd pass along. First, mothers rock their infants at the same rate at which they walk. Since rocking is a familiar motion to babies from their in utero experience, it only makes sense that they would be most calmed by being rocked at the same speed at which their mothers walk. What I find more fascinating is that mothers unknowingly rock their babies as fast (or as slowly) as they walk. And yet, that is precisely the most calming speed for their babies.
The second tangent about rocking showed how rocking is important and necessary for baby's development. The rocking motion helps a baby organize the vestibular system which controls equilibrium, or balance. As a baby is rocked, the fluids in the inner ear move around which triggers the vestibular system to action. While the baby is calmed and rocked to sleep, this system is hard at work practicing communicating to the brain all the information gathered about the baby's balance. I love this because all the times I've just sat and rocked my babies, ignoring chores, ringing phones, and errands, are completely justified because I was promoting my babies' development. The next time the current baby insists I drop everything and rock her, I will remind myself it's as important as reading to her to help her development.
From Amber, Because Babies Grow Up
Smart Tip: Combine reading and rocking to encourage your baby's development. As an added bonus you'll also strengthen your baby's attachment to you!
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