On the link below a father proudly shows how to “calm a crying baby”.

The following commentary is based on developmental neuroscience,

and will conclude that this baby is not calmed, but in a state of fear.

Download the  Bergman commentary on popular baby advice 1705

The commentary refers to the following video link


The following is a very abbreviated version of the pdf.

In summary, the sound is eliciting a signal from the amygdala, a primitive survival mechanism.   The immediate response to noise = startle, Moro reflex  = fright.

This triggers a sequence – vigilance, alarm, fear, terror.

This baby shows very clear signs of vigilance, alarm and fear, it does not reach the terror stage . See also stages from Bruce Perry and team


The loud sound continues,  there is tachypneoa, rapid breathing (sympathetic nervous system activation in brainstem) = appraisal affirms continuous threat  =    state of fear.  The crying stops, in the presence of predator threat, crying would increase danger.

Continuous fast breathing follows and then the  baby shifts into freeze state

See the threat arousal cycle


Conclusion: this baby stops crying because it is in a state of “fear” (Bruce Perry 1995)

            This method should not be recommended.

The father’s reassurance that “I love you” is unlikely to reach further than the baby’s ears, perhaps the cortical brain. It is extremely unlikely to reach the baby’s emotional brain. Father undoubtedly does love the child, but the baby is getting mixed messages. Erratic care has been identified as a potential cause of an ambivalent insecure attachment.      http://www.positive-parenting-ally.com/attachment-styles.html

Attachment styles - secure attachment, insecure attachement: avoidant attachment, ambivalent attachment, disorganized attachment

Note – “inconsistent … responsiveness to needs and signals” … the child learns that it cannot rely on parent to provide for its needs.  Back to the beginning :

Why was the baby crying in the first place? Was its need met?

Dr Nils Bergman
May 2017.