DEC 04, 2015 12:58 PM PST

How to Calm Fussy Newborns with

WRITTEN BY: Xuan Pham

It can be heart wrenching to listen to a newborn baby crying, especially when all of your attempts to soothe the baby haven't worked. Dr. Robert Hamilton thinks it all has to do with how you hold the baby.

His technique is called "The Hold," which is a broad name for a very specific maneuver. There are 4 steps to "The Hold":

1. Fold the baby's arm together to his/her chest and use your left hand to support the baby's head
2. Support the baby's bottom with your dominant hand
3. Tilt the baby forward at a 45-degree angle
4. Gently rock, shake, or even "stir" the baby's bottom with your right hand

The maneuver looks precarious but there's some science to it. First the folded arms mimic swaddling, whereby secured arms reduce the baby's startle reflex. Second tilting the baby forward helps to lower abdominal pressure, which could help colicky babies. And finally, the gentle motions are soothing. Dr. Hamilton says the technique works best for 2- and 3-month-old infants.

"The Hold" seems to work well for babies in Dr. Hamilton's hands. But he's also had decades of experience with holding infants, during which time he's probably developed unexplained intuitions about how to calm fussy babies.
About the Author
  • I am a human geneticist, passionate about telling stories to make science more engaging and approachable. Find more of my writing at the Hopkins BioMedical Odyssey blog and at TheGeneTwist.com.
You May Also Like
AUG 04, 2020
Space & Astronomy
Scientists Develop Interstellar Sunscreen to Block Deadly Rays
AUG 04, 2020
Scientists Develop Interstellar Sunscreen to Block Deadly Rays
Outside of the Earth's magnetic field exist many kinds of dangerous radiation. These include ultraviolet, X-rays, an ...
AUG 06, 2020
Plants & Animals
Swine Fever Threatens Critically Endangered Indian Hogs
AUG 06, 2020
Swine Fever Threatens Critically Endangered Indian Hogs
The Associated Press reports that the world's smallest and rarest wild pig species is undergoing its own virus lockd ...
AUG 14, 2020
Plants & Animals
Tracking the Iconic American Bison
AUG 14, 2020
Tracking the Iconic American Bison
The Great Plains of Montana are home to one of the United States' largest land restoration projects, known as the Am ...
SEP 15, 2020
Space & Astronomy
Carbon-rich Planets May Be Full of Diamonds
SEP 15, 2020
Carbon-rich Planets May Be Full of Diamonds
Researchers from Arizona State University and the University of Chicago have found that carbon-rich planets outside our ...
SEP 24, 2020
Health & Medicine
Extreme Isolation can Cause Physical Brain Changes
SEP 24, 2020
Extreme Isolation can Cause Physical Brain Changes
By this point in the year, you’ve either heard or uttered the phrase “quarantine brain.” While the act ...
JAN 08, 2021
Neuroscience
Brain Scans Show Why Comedy-News Shows are More Memorable
JAN 08, 2021
Brain Scans Show Why Comedy-News Shows are More Memorable
Comedy-news shows such as those by Trevor Noah, John Oliver, and Samantha Bee on the rise and are especially popular amo ...
Loading Comments...