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5 plus 8 = good night? With this simple formula, babies are supposed to fall asleep quickly

Katja Fischer
16.09.2022

A new study promises something groundbreaking: a simple guide for parents that is supposed to put babies into deep sleep - within 13 minutes. I say: far too good to be true.

I am ugly. Ugly that the solution came too late for me. I'm angry that I didn't think of it myself.

At last there is a simple formula for deep baby sleep.

At last it exists, the simple formula for deep baby sleep. A few days ago, scientists from Japan published their groundbreaking study results in the scientific journal "Current Biology", which are currently making the international press.

Ladies and gentlemen, mothers and fathers of the world, forget all the sleep aids you've tried so far. The solution is here and it's so simple: "5+8" is the magic formula that will put your crying baby to sleep from now on. Within a mere 13 minutes. And this is how the scientifically proven formula works: Parents should take their crying baby in their arms and hold him close for five minutes. Then, after the baby has fallen asleep, hold him sitting up for another eight minutes and then put him to bed. That's it. That's all the witchcraft.

Is your head rattling right now too? I imagine how much of my life I've spent at, in and around my children's bed trying unsuccessfully (again) to get them to sleep. And above all: how many hours and nerves I would have saved myself by doing this if I had known about the 5+8 method much earlier.

Our daily and nightly sleep-in game

. Irony off. In truth, my head is rattling for another reason: great scepticism. After six years of experience as a mother and two children with completely different sleeping patterns, I simply cannot believe that the solution to all problems falling asleep should be (or have been) so simple.

Actually, my husband and I didn't do too much wrong. We carried our children around when they cried in bed and couldn't sleep. I guess that's what you call parental instinct. But the problem was that they woke up and continued to scream when we tried to put them back down. That, in turn, was probably their childish instinct. So we carried them around again, put them down again, they woke up again ... Our daily (and nightly) game.

Hin und Her: Sobald du das schlafende Baby zurück ins Bettchen legst, wacht es wieder auf und schreit.
Hin und Her: Sobald du das schlafende Baby zurück ins Bettchen legst, wacht es wieder auf und schreit.
Bild: Unsplash

Our basic mistakes: the time span and the lack of sitting down. So, according to the latest research, we should have carried our children to sleep for exactly five minutes and then sat down in a chair with them for another eight minutes before putting them to bed. How I would love to test this "instruction manual" now, unfortunately the children are already too old and too heavy for that.

The way to the magic formula

So all I have left is the study. And I'm taking a closer look at it.

Four conditions were studied: Babies between zero and seven months were all kept walking and sitting, and placed in a stationary or moving cot (such as a moving pram). The researchers found that their heart rates slowed down rapidly when the mother held her baby in her arms while walking. There was a similar result in the moving cot, but not when the mother held her child sitting up or placed it in a stationary cot. The effect was clearest when the baby was carried around at a steady pace for at least five minutes: All babies stopped crying and almost half fell back asleep during this time. In a second step, the participants put their sleeping child to bed. Result: More than a third woke up again within 20 seconds. However, if they were able to sleep in their arms longer, they were less likely to wake up again. And: Their heart rate was lower in this case in bed than in their mother's arms.

This then resulted in the optimal run-hold mixed formula: five minutes carry, eight minutes hold.

In 13 Minuten zum (Schlaf-)Glück: Fünf Minuten Baby tragen, acht Minuten Baby halten.
In 13 Minuten zum (Schlaf-)Glück: Fünf Minuten Baby tragen, acht Minuten Baby halten.
Bild: Current Biology

I am impressed. And amazed. So all the more or less awkward lay-down techniques I tried and practised with my daughters were for naught. The key to successful laying down is apparently the period of time during which the child is asleep. This also surprised the researcher and main author of the study, Kumi Kuroda, as she states in the report. And she is, after all, a mother of four.

There are two catches

. What surprises me even more, however, is that the tests were carried out with only 21 participants. And in my opinion, that is not very meaningful. Couldn't it just be pure coincidence that most of these 21 babies responded to the formula? Aren't children and their sleep practices ultimately too individual for a universal patent remedy? After all, even the researchers admit in their report that this is a small series of experiments that would have to be confirmed in studies with larger samples. And then there's another point that makes me wonder: The formula only works with crying children. Because if the babies were already quiet (but awake), the carrying-around effect was absent. Too bad.

For me, the revolution would have come too late anyway, but I would have heartily wished it on all overtired mothers and fathers of newborns. But maybe it will come. Until then, the rule of thumb - which has been researched in practice - applies once again: what is good for one child is by no means good for another. And sometimes sleeping aids do perform a valuable service after all.

Auftaktbild: Unsplash

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Mom of Anna and Elsa, aperitif expert, group fitness fanatic, aspiring dancer and gossip lover. Often a multitasker and a person who wants it all, sometimes a chocolate chef and queen of the couch.


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