I believe once our ancestors began living in villages and cities, they forgot that, since the Stone Age, babies were almost constantly jiggled and wiggled as their moms walked up and down the mountains. Sadly, many babies deprived of these comforting movements began to startle and cry at every disturbance. I’m afraid that in order to explain that crying, modern parents began to mistakenly think that babies were so fragile they could only tolerate quiet sounds and gentle motion.
This new attitude undermined their confidence in triggering the calming reflex, because as you are about to learn it can be activated only by vigorous actions—especially in very fussy babies. Gradually, this ancient calming tool was forgotten.
As you will recall, reflexes require specific triggers. The triggers for your baby’s calming reflex are the sensations he felt in the uterus. It is my belief that this precious reflex came about not as a way of soothing upset infants but rather as a way of soothing upset fetuses!
This vital response saved countless numbers of mothers and unborn babies by keeping fetuses entranced so that they wouldn’t thrash around and kink their umbilical cords or get wedged into a position that made delivery impossible. How brilliant of Mother Nature to design this critical, lifesaving response to be automatically activated by the sensations fetuses are naturally surrounded by.
Not only are the rhythms of the uterus profoundly calming to babies, they’re also comforting to adults. Think of how you’re affected by hearing the ocean, rocking in a hammock, and cuddling in a warm bed. However, while we merely enjoy these sensations, our babies need them—and fussy babies need them desperately.
So if you’ve tried feeding, burping, and diaper changing and your baby is still yelling himself hoarse, it’s time to try soothing him this “old” new way.
The Top Ten Ways You Can Imitate the Uterus
5. White noise or singing
6. Car rides
7. Walks outside
This list includes just a few of the dozens of ways clever parents have invented to calm their infants. But what you know now is something that no mom or dad throughout history realized, that these tricks relax newborns by switching on the ancient reflex that kept them in a protective, lifesaving trance when they were fetuses.
The most popular baby calming methods can be grouped into five basic categories: Swaddling, Side/Stomach position, Shhhhing sounds, Swinging, and Sucking. I call these the 5 “S’s”; they are the qualities of the uterus that help activate the calming reflex. However, like all reflexes, even these great techniques only switch on the calming reflex if they’re done correctly.