It drives me crazy. Usually when I hold her in my arms, everything goes well if I am standing up and walking around in the house. However, when I sit down (because at some point I get tired), after a few minutes, she starts crying and never stops until I get up and walk again. She is about 6 weeks old.

Notes: I have the habit of often rocking her gently when I hold her while standing up. But I don't think this is the reason because when I sit down, I try to do the same but it is ineffective. It often happens in the evening, before going to bed. Also, I remember one of her older brother (she has two) was doing the same when he was a baby too (and it drove me crazy too).

Why can't I just sit down? What can I do to rest my feet?

  • 1
    The Joys of Kids! If you ever figure this one out I'd love to hear your answer - as a fellow dad we had this with both of ours - our youngest is 6 months and still does it intermittently, though if he can look around he's generally happy. My theory is that there's something imperceptibly different about the way we hold babies when sitting, which is not right. I'd write an answer but it doesn't actually solve your problem, just guess why it's happening! Nov 10, 2016 at 17:03
  • I suggest you experiment with some gadgets (and a sling as someone else suggested). You can try a stroller and go for a walk. There are mechanized things that give the baby movement. For baby wearing, I like the long shawl wrap the best, e.g. boba.com/support/boba-wrap/boba-wrap-tying-101. You can make your own, you just cut a long piece of rayon in half lengthwise and sew one seam so it ends up double length. Nov 12, 2016 at 4:50

4 Answers 4


Why? Babies have evolved that way. Not just human babies, infants behave the same way across the animal kingdom:

Here we show a novel set of infant cooperative responses during maternal carrying. Infants under 6 months of age carried by a walking mother immediately stopped voluntary movement and crying and exhibited a rapid heart rate decrease, compared with holding by a sitting mother. Furthermore, we identified strikingly similar responses in mouse pups as defined by immobility and diminished ultrasonic vocalizations and heart rate. Using pharmacologic and genetic interventions in mouse pups, we identified the upstream and downstream neural systems regulating the calming response. Somatosensory and proprioceptive input signaling are required for induction, and parasympathetic and cerebellar functions mediate cardiac and motor output, respectively. The loss of the calming response hindered maternal rescue of the pups, suggesting a functional significance for the identified calming response.


Our study has demonstrated for the first time that the infant calming response to maternal carrying is a coordinated set of central, motor, and cardiac regulations and is a conserved component of mammalian mother-infant interactions. Our findings provide evidence for and have the potential to impact current parenting theory and practice, since unsoothable crying is the major risk factor for child abuse.

Infant Calming Responses during Maternal Carrying in Humans and Mice, Esposito, Gianluca et al. Current Biology , Volume 23 , Issue 9 , 739 - 745 http://www.cell.com/current-biology/abstract/S0960-9822%2813%2900343-6

In short babies have a hardwired physical response to being rocked (which is essentially a stand-in for being carried while walking). This should not be altogether surprising, it makes good evolutionary sense: babies are safest when they are being carried in some ones arms as this means they are actively being cared.

Furthermore this response carries into adulthood:

Why do we cradle babies or irresistibly fall asleep in a hammock? Although such simple behaviors are common across cultures and generations, the nature of the link between rocking and sleep is poorly understood [1, 2]. Here we aimed to demonstrate that swinging can modulate physiological parameters of human sleep. To this end, we chose to study sleep during an afternoon nap using polysomnography and EEG spectral analyses. We show that lying on a slowly rocking bed (0.25 Hz) facilitates the transition from waking to sleep, and increases the duration of stage N2 sleep. Rocking also induces a sustained boosting of slow oscillations and spindle activity. It is proposed that sensory stimulation associated with a swinging motion exerts a synchronizing action in the brain that reinforces endogenous sleep rhythms. These results thus provide scientific support to the traditional belief that rocking can soothe our sleep.

Rocking synchronizes brain waves during a short nap, Bayer, Laurence et al. Current Biology , Volume 21 , Issue 12 , R461 - R462 http://www.cell.com/current-biology/fulltext/S0960-9822(11)00539-2

(This study was carried on adult male volunteers).

What to do about it? Baby wearing, especially in a sling, was invaluable in my experience, you might also find a rocking chair useful.

Here are a couple of links to articles describing the research above (the full papers are also available as PDF's if you want to really dig into the science.)

  1. http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2013/04/how-rocking-baby-mouth-carrying-mouse-pup
  2. https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-athletes-way/201304/the-neuroscience-calming-baby
  3. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-michael-j-breus/rocking-to-sleep_b_890553.html

Theese guides to infant sleep might also be helpful: http://www.parentingscience.com/baby-sleep-patterns.html http://www.parentingscience.com/infant-sleep-problems.html

Finally its also worth remembering that your baby might still have her pre-natal sleep patterns still, at this stage, though this will change very soon.

You have my sympathies, I spent many hours, when my daughter was your age, walking her around outside, in below freezing temperatures, to get her to sleep. You are right in the middle of what is likely to be the hardest time for sleep, but it is going to get better.

  • 1
    Wow. Very complete answer and brings a new light to the whole problem. And I actually feel better knowing that it's a natural state of things (and that my problems are not more difficult than the one mice face...)
    – dim
    Nov 11, 2016 at 20:09
  • The rocking chair suggestion is wonderful: the parent can sit and the kid can rock. Thank you!
    – Konerak
    Nov 24, 2016 at 10:04

We had a very tough baby girl who would do the same thing. She was colicky, and we eventually figured out she had a dairy intolerance as well (to milk that mom drank).

We ended up bouncing on an exercise ball with her to give us a break from walking/standing. It's brutal in its own way - you will find core muscles you never knew existed - but it's at least not walking.

And know that it does eventually go away. I remember gently bouncing on the exercise ball for 4 hour stretches. Now I have a happy, giggly, joyful 15 month old. So it gets better.


Use a wrap or baby sling and take turns with daddy.

If you feel that something is wrong please consult a doctor. Babies can have many problems: acid reflux, tensions, tummyaches or just feeling fussy before bedtime. Are you sure she isn't hungry? Maybe you've hit the jack-pot and have a baby with a mild case of baby colic or three month colic.

  • I am actually the daddy (I realize it wasn't quite obvious). I don't think she's hungry, her mommy is breast-feeding her very regularily and she has taken significant weight. But I'm afraid you're right regarding reflux/colics...
    – dim
    Nov 10, 2016 at 11:43

Using a sling is highly recommended by the renowned paediatrician William Sears. It makes the carrying a lot easier.

My limited understanding here is that especially as newborns, babies are used to the motion of being walking around, and being carried in a sling reproduces that comforting feeling for the baby.

Sears also wrote that babies vary widely in their need to be constantly carried and fed. My little one demanded almost constant carrying for the first months of her life, but it was a phase she grew out of relatively quickly.

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