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Mindful Moms: Less Stressed Babies

August 2017

ORLANDO, Fla. (Ivanhoe Newswire) — You feed them, clothe them, and worry about them, but is your constant worrying stressing them out? Here are some details from a new study showing why a more mindful mom may equal a happier baby.

For a new mom, the first few months revolve completely around the baby. With the chaos of raising an infant, being mindful (being present) may become a bit challenging. When a parent is less mindful, it is not good news for the baby either.

Researchers had 73 low-income mothers take part in a “still face” task, where they kept a neutral facial expression while looking at their infants for two minutes. The mothers’ lack of expression stressed the babies, causing some to cry and whine. The study took a closer look at only the moms who reported having been through stressful life experiences, finding that the babies of parents who practiced mindful parenting had lower stress levels after the blank face experiment.

So how can you be more mindful with your baby? First, pay attention to your baby’s mood. Feedings are a good time to connect with your baby and give them your full attention. Next, try not to react negatively when your baby cries. And move on if something that you try doesn’t work. Lingering on something too long is not healthy for mom or baby.

For the study, researchers used saliva samples from both the mothers and babies to measure cortisol. The mothers and babies were tested at three months and again at six months after they participated in the still face task. The finding suggests that mindful parenting can ease babies through a potentially stressful situation.

Contributors to this news report include: Cyndy McGrath, Supervising Producer; Milvionne Chery, Field Producer; Roque Correa, Editor.

Produced by Child Trends News Service in partnership with Ivanhoe Broadcast News and funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation.