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The magical baby soothing tip: does “The Hold” work?

If you spend as much time on the internet as we do, you’ve probably seen this very adorable clip of Dr. Robert Hamilton, of Pacific Ocean Pediatrics in Santa Monica, CA, demonstrating an amazing technique for calming down a crying newborn:

The doctor demonstrates his technique in the video on a few babies who have gotten shots, and it’s downright miraculous, watching kids go from red-faced bawling to calmness and even bright-eyed contentment. You can use “The Hold” on babies up to 3 months of age, or until they get too heavy, and it goes like this:

  1. Fold the arms across the chest
  2. Secure the arms after they’re folded
  3. Grab the diaper area with your dominant hand
  4. Hold the baby at a 45 degree angle and rock up and down gently; you may also want to wiggle their little bottom (CUTE!) or stir them in half-circles

Part of the success of this technique clearly has to do with Dr. Hamilton’s manner: as Kelly Hamilton points out at Jezebel, even if you’re an adult, just watching this guy at work makes you feel pretty warm and fuzzy. He’s like a kindly grandpa, and after 30 years in the biz, he obviously knows what he’s doing.  As Dr. Martin Ward-Platt told the Daily Mail, “There is a lot to be said for being a calm, reassuring presence… there can be a vicious circle whereby baby gets stressed, parents get stressed and baby continues to cry. Often all it takes is someone such as a laidback grandparent to step in.”

swaddled babyAnother part of the method that makes perfect sense is folding the baby’s arms and gently holding them in place: most babies love the feeling of being tightly swaddled, and The Hold works a lot like a good swaddling blanket. Ari Brown, MD, author of Baby 411, told Yahoo Parenting that Dr. Hamilton’s technique combines a lot of time-honored knowledge about how to comfort babies: “The baby’s arms are secure, reducing their startle reflex. They like it because they’re snug and it’s a comforting reapproximation of the womb. And leaning forward actually helps lower abdominal pressure, which helps if a baby is colicky or has heartburn.”

Will The Hold really work every time? Dr. Hamilton points out that it’s possible that if your baby keeps crying, they may feel ill or may be hungry. And of course, every baby is different , so you may need to employ some other baby-soothing techniques or tools – it’s always a good idea to have a rocker or bouncer on hand. But this video is compelling evidence that The Hold is something every new parent should try.

(And don’t forget Eli’s golden rule for avoiding fussiness at night: put those babies to bed early!)

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