We have all heard that a child calms down when he hears his mother's voice or when she sings to him. Sometimes, however, even the whole repertoire of the singing mother is not able to tame the baby, who starts crying and keeps even the neighbors awake.
Are there really sounds to soothe a baby?
Turns out, yes. To the surprise of many, babies prefer to hear sounds similar to the noise of a washing machine, the hum of a hair dryer or the sound of a moving train. Why is that so? The answer is simple – for nine months the little man was in the womb of his mother, where it was not at all surrounded by silence. The sound of the heart, the movement of blood in the arteries, the mother's breathing and speech drive the baby to feel as if it were in a veritable cacophony to which it is accustomed. The sudden change of this environment, with silence and sounds that are not as loud and clear as in the womb, sometimes causes anxiety in the newborn. Coupled with colic, teething or other discomfort, this anxiety can become an occasion for the baby to crying inconsolably for hours.
They exist numerous studies in this direction, and the experience of many mothers confirms that babies are easily soothed by noises, which for us adults are a source of irritation and we can hardly fall asleep when they appear. If you start drying your hair with a hair dryer and the child suddenly stops crying, it's not because he was startled - it's just that noise is getting closer to his habits. However, they work best sounds that resemble a heartbeat – for example the noise of a moving train or a monotonous and even tapping.
You may have heard of Dr. Harvey Karp's Method for Soothing Crying Babies, which consists precisely in the strange sounds of a hair dryer or a vacuum cleaner. According to him, keeping the baby quiet can only harm him because it takes him away from the environment in which he was in the womb. Karp also points out that the noise a baby hears before it is born, coming from the mother's body, is equivalent to a vacuum cleaner playing on a microphone.
Of course, turning on the hair dryer isn't enough to soothe a crying baby. Newborns need closeness to the mother and contrary to some prejudices, cuddling and falling asleep near her are of particular importance. Breastfeeding, the rocking and the walks outside are also of key importance for the healthy sleep and calmness of the baby, and hence – of its parents as well.