The rocking chair; an invaluable ally for parents and baby
In this article :
- Benefits for mom: healing after a C-section
- Advantages for development
- Easing colics
- An additional benefit to emotional attachment and nutrition
Imagine the scene. In the middle of the night, baby’s cries wake mom. She rises, heavy with sleep, takes the child and settles in a rocking chair. Cuddled together, a soft light surrounds them. After feeding, they both drowse to the slow rhythm of the night and the rocking chair. Calmed, they both drift away.
It’s a classic image, even anecdotal. What persists is the calming power of the rocking motion, as much for the mother as for the child. Researchers from the universities of Geneva and Lausanne conducted two studies on the subject. Their results, published in Current Biology in 2019, demonstrated that slow, repeated movements all night long affects the activity of mental waves. Not only does it promote a deeper sleep, but it helps consolidate some phases during sleep. This last data is all the more interesting as these phases are instrumental in the child’s development, specifically the regulation of emotions and the development of language.
Another study from 2001 says that the quality of nighttime sleep between 12 and 18 months has an incidence on memory, impulse control and mental flexibility.These statements clarify the power of the rocking motion. Not only does it nourish the link between parents and child, but it plays a major role in mental development. Who knew a simple rocking chair could have such an impact!
Benefits for mom: healing after a C-section
It’s well-known that rocking helps reduce back pain by releasing muscle tension. But it also reduces pain from a C-section by releasing tissue tensions and particularly painful gas buildup. Also, following a C-section, the slow gentle movement while cuddled skin-to-skin improves baby’s body temperature, which is often lower than after a natural birth.
The rocking motion can also help prevent the appearance of varicose veins by improving blood circulation and muscle tone for moving legs. Rocking is beneficial since it raises the body’s awareness of the position of the spine and the lower limbs.
Advantages for development
As mentioned above, many advantages are noted regarding the role of rocking in baby’s development. This introduction to a deeper sleep helps the development of language skills, as noted in a study published in Sleep. It is mentioned that at 18 months, sleep quality – and thus, the development of language – is determined by environmental factors such as parental behaviour. We understand by this that rocking and the emotional attachment it provides the child is an important factor in its evolution. According to the study, an adequate sleep by the age of 6-7 months structures the basis of language and promotes this development throughout pre-school years.
We have still not discovered the mystery of colic, but an estimated 10% to 20% of babies suffer from them. What we do know, however, is that rocking helps calm many colicky babies. For parents, rocking is the only thing that can calm their children.
The homeopathic pediatrician Pierre Popowski, author of La peau chez l’enfant en homéopathie, states that sling carriers, skin-to-skin and rocking are steps that will calm colic, since the child can feel as if still in the womb; which is reassuring. The outside world is a scary place and the rocking in combination with the heat and smell of mom will reassuring him.
An additional benefit to emotional attachment and nutrition
Without a doubt, the most tangible asset to rocking after birth is the emotional attachment it creates between parents and their baby. In the hours, days and weeks that follow, the link between parents and baby develops. And as it can be done by both parents, rocking allows dad to create a link with baby.
A rocking chair in a peaceful spot in the home is also an area that promotes breast-feeding. This is an important element, particularly if it is proving to be difficult. This proximity, furthered by the rocking motion, helps baby relax and drink better. Which inevitably makes it easier for the mother. A chair with arm rests can also help ease tensions in the shoulders and back, whether it’s breast- or bottle-feeding.
A child that cries in the night, colic, backpain for mom, never-ending feedings; there are many unforeseen events in a parent’s life. What remains certain is the intangible comfort and help that a rocking chair can provide. Something that can make the whole family gurgle and coo!