The ‘calming baby’ Hold – we test if it really works

There's been a storm on the internet over a 'new' way of instantly soothing a crying baby. So MFM mums tried it out on their upset babies

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It’s been hailed as a miracle solution and a magic trick. It’s a move that claims to soothe a crying baby instantly. Oh yes. The Hold is a technique that’s been ‘invented’ by US paediatrician Robert Hamilton and if you believe the hype on the internet, it’s calming hysterical babies all over the world as we speak.

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So does it really work, at home with our babies? We asked our mums in our Baby Forum to test it out – and the results are fascinating.

But first, how do you do The Hold?

1. You fold your baby’s arms across his or her chest

2. Secure your baby’s arms gently after they’re folded

3. Gently grasp the nappy area with your dominant hand

4. Rock your baby up and down at a 45-degree angle, maybe with a little side-to-side jiggle thrown in

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How our mums got on

Overall, there was a big thumbs up for the technique with all babies but one instantly calming down. But as the mums tried it out for longer they discovered one big drawback…

“I tried it last night – except I could not fold his arms but it worked anyway!” enthused Mirela. “He seemed so content instantly! Hurray!”

But then…

“It’s just I couldn’t do it for long – he is heavy, lol. But at least it calms him straight away.”

Sarah agrees. “Baby Cameron is a screamer and crier 24/7. We tried this, although it was hard to get his arms in the right position. Once we got it, he seemed calm but as soon as we stopped he goes back to screaming and crying again.”

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Another mum, Babydreamer, had a similar experience. “It works with Lorelei as long as you don’t stop rocking her. After a few minutes she does get to be a little heavy. So I’ve found that if I use it to help her calm down I can do whatever I’m trying to get her to do, ie, nurse when she’s really upset.”

Getting your baby’s hands in the right position proved tricky. “I don’t tuck Lorelei’s hands,” explains Babydreamer. “She hates to have her hands tucked into anything. When I tuck her hands she gets fussy.”

SW2 found that success depended on just how mad her baby was feeling. “It worked when he was just a little grizzly but not when he was super angry. Maybe because (as others have said) i couldn’t do it for long as he’s too heavy to hold like that for long.”

Babydreamer added an update a day later. “I agree with SW2. If Lorelei is a little upset it works but when she’s really upset it doesn’t help.”

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Our verdict

  • It worked for 4 out of 5 of our mums
  • But, and it’s a big but, while it did calm crying babies, it was only a short-term fix
  • It’s a tiring position to hold your baby in – and when you stop, the wailing starts again
  • When the babies are in meltdown, it didn’t work.

One mum’s solution – the 5S technique

One MFMer, SW2, had a handy adaption of the technique. It’s based on a method called the 5 Ss, created by Dr Harvey Karp and explained in his book, Happiest Baby on the Block. In turn, the 5 Ss technique is based on a method used for centuries by Bushmen in the Kalahari Desert.

The 5 Ss are:

  • Swaddle – which is similar to The Hold’s tucked in position
  • Side or stomach position – which is similar to the forward facing, tummy down of The Hold
  • Shush – Dr Karp recommends a white noise CD for babies
  • Swing – jiggling like The Hold
  • Suck – definitely harder for a baby to cry if they’re sucking on something

SW2 recognises the big bonus of this method – it doesn’t make your arms ache until they want to fall off. “Do it with your baby lying on their side on your lap so its a lot easier to do for longer.” Brilliant.

Watch The Hold in action in Dr Hamilton’s video…

Have you tried The Hold? Did it work with your baby? Let us know in the comments below.

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