For a large amount of the time if our baby is crying I can stick her on my shoulder or my knee and bounce or rock her (gently), and she will calm down.

Why does this work?

She gets bounced a lot when she is with me. One thing I thought recently is maybe it makes her quiet because she gets scared (similar to the effect a fairground ride has) - which would not be good..

Am I doing her development any harm, perhaps by overstimulating her or suppressing some natural urge?

  • my daughter who is seven weeks old wants nothing more than to be bounced on my knee she will not sit quietly.i really taught there was something wrong with her until i read all the comments people send in its after putting my mind at eaze. thank you
    – user2524
    Commented Apr 19, 2012 at 15:40

3 Answers 3


I think babies find gentle bouncing or rocking soothing because it reminds them of time in the womb.

My wife and used to joke about how we would both find ourselves rocking back and forth after our son was born, even when we weren't holding him. What was even more amusing was when we would go to the pediatricians office, and see other new parents doing exactly the same thing.

So long as you are rocking or bouncing gently, you are doing nothing wrong. Rather than suppressing some natural urge, you are actually employing a very normal and natural soothing technique.

  • We probably disprove that theory, our baby was born 15 weeks prematurely and her mother hardly moved for a month before that, so she didn't really get much in the womb rocking.. Commented Jun 10, 2011 at 15:40
  • 1
    Unless its an instinctive thing.. Commented Jun 10, 2011 at 15:40
  • 4
    @Mongus that still leaves several months of sloshing about in amniotic fluid :) Even minor motions of the mother, such as rolling over in sleep or shifting position, can rock the unborn infant.
    – user420
    Commented Jun 10, 2011 at 15:53
  • 4
    Wow, crazy, for at least the two weeks after my son was born I found myself rocking back and forth even when I wasn't holding him. Funny that this has happened to others too.
    – guidoism
    Commented Jun 10, 2011 at 16:24
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    Subconsciously rocking alone is a universal thing I guess. I often caught myself getly pushing the shopping cart back-and-forth as if it were the pram! Yes I laughed at myself then. Commented Jul 27, 2011 at 5:55

Movement is very calming for most infants. Rocking chairs, baby swings, and bouncers are designed just for that purpose. Of course, they are really just good imitations of caregiver's knees, arms, backs, and shoulders that were greatly appreciated by my strained joints and muscles.

Movement is important for developing the balance and muscle control centers (vestibular & proprioceptive systems) of the brain and vision of a young child. It may be that your imposed bed rest created the bodies "craving" for more intense sensation to "catch up" on the daily dose of movement.

Sometimes riding in a car or stroller, sitting on top of a dryer with shoes inside (with caregiver close by of course), or bounced while lying on tummy across knees are other positions satisfying to some.


Well there's the explanation that children associate being bounced or rocked with being carried around by their mother, which assures them their mother is close and, thereby, that they are safe.

I think it's natural to rock babies (gently, as you say) to get them calm, so I can't believe it does them any harm, developmental or otherwise.

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