Between the time your baby is conceived and the time she is born, she has spent her entire existence in motion. The embryonic fluid which has surrounded her throughout your pregnancy provided an environment where your baby was constantly exposed to both sound and motion.
In your baby’s embryonic environment, even the slightest movement on your part jostled her around. Even your breathing caused movement inside the womb. Essentially, you were constantly rocking your baby, even while you were sleeping. As you may well imagine, your baby became accustomed to this, and found it very pleasant.
It is commonly believed that this is the main reason why rocking your baby helps her to relax and go to sleep. Whenever you hold your baby and sway back and forth, you bring to her mind images of the time she spent in your tummy, all snug and warm.
In addition to the motion your baby experienced in your womb, she was surrounded by constant muffled sound. Fluids, including embryonic fluids, carry sound very well (if not very distinctly), and when your baby was in the womb, she was constantly surrounded by the muffled sounds of your body, including your breathing, heart beat, digestive system, and even sounds from outside your body. That’s why babies recognize their mother’s voice almost instantly after birth.
If you’re having trouble getting your newborn to relax and fall asleep, consider rocking her and adding some white noise. White noise machines are available wherever baby goods are sold, and provide sounds which remind baby of the constant muffled sounds inside your womb. Alternately, there are CD and mp3 recordings of white noise, some of which are designed specifically to replicate the sounds of a mother’s womb.
Of course, it’s impossible to rock your baby all of the time. Many parents find that a baby swing is invaluable in helping baby to relax. While it’s not good to leave baby sleeping in a swing, swings can help a fussy baby to relax and get ready to sleep. If you do use a swing for a newborn baby, make sure that her head is supported. You can do this by rolling a baby blanket and placing it so that baby’s head doesn’t roll from side to side while she is sitting in the swing.