Quite simply put, your baby undergoes a number of upsetting changes when she is born. Up until now, she spent her entire existence snug and warm, surrounded by embryonic fluid, with all of her needs being met automatically, plenty of white noise in the background and, perhaps most soothingly, plenty of motion. Being surrounded by fluid has meant that she was in constant motion inside the womb. After she is born, those periods of lying still are unusual to her, and may be quite disconcerting. When you hold her close and rock her, or otherwise provide rhythmic movement, you simulate one of the sensations she felt constantly inside the womb.
There are many ways you as a parent can use motion to help your baby fall asleep. The best motions are gentle, regular, and rhythmic, as this best simulates what he was used to before he was born. Some of the best kinds of movement to help baby fall asleep are as follows:
- Hold baby close and rock her gently.
- Place baby in car seat and take him for a car ride.
- Place baby in car seat and set the car seat on top of the dryer while it is running. This has the added benefit of white noise. Make sure to stay with baby. Do not leave your baby unattended on top of the drying machine. She could fall.
- Place your baby in a baby swing and run it on low to medium.
- Use a baby sling and carry baby. This has the added benefit of allowing baby to feel close to you, which will also help calm him at times.
- Place baby on your chest, with his head on your shoulder. Being careful to support the head for younger babies, gently bounce her.
- If you have access to one, hold baby and sit in a massage chair. This has the added benefit of helping the parent relax.
- Set older babies on your knees, sitting up, and bounce them gently.
Try any or all of the above, or use something entirely different. Much of good parenting is trial and error, and no two babies will like exactly the same things. As long as the movement is reasonably gentle and rhythmic, it should help to relax baby, allowing him to fall asleep.