Any mothers and fathers will be well familiar with this scenario: You’re quietly trying to lull your baby to sleep, singing softly and rocking slowly and when you finally get them to nod off, you lay them down oh so gently into their cot, turn away (delighted with your success) and… they burst into tears again. It turns out that a) you are not the only to experience that, all mammals from foxes to mice infants have the same reaction and b) they’re not intentionally trying to sleep deprive you. New research tells us that this behaviour is actually an evolutionary reaction top help infants survive in the wild.
A recent study from the RIKEN Brain Institute in Japan looked into just why babies stop crying when they’re picked up and, interestingly, results show that a child’s reaction to their mother’s warmth is similar to how adults feel when they meditate. Their heart rate slows and their cerebellum, which controls your fight or flight response, relaxes. A mother’s touch both emotionally and physiologically denotes safety to a baby and gives them the utmost reassurance. And the response is not just towards a biological mother, but any primary caregiver.
So next time your little one has you crawling up the walls with no sleep or peace, remember that they’re genetically designed to respond that way, you are the safest place they will ever know and most of all, it’s not your fault; you’re doing just fine.
What’s more, this speaks volumes of the benefits of meditation too. Ommmm.