Soothing methods used to calm a baby in an Arab country

Acta Paediatr. 2009 Feb;98(2):392-6. doi: 10.1111/j.1651-2227.2008.01029.x.


This study was undertaken to determine how mothers soothed their crying infants. A total of 1137 mothers of different cultural backgrounds were approached, 998 agreed to participate in the study, but only 716 completed the questionnaire through a telephone interview. Analysis was restricted to 702 mothers from the UAE nationality, other Arabs, other Muslims, Indians and Philippinos. The questionnaire contained 23 questions on different soothing methods. The most common soothing method was breast-feeding (99.1%), followed by holding and carrying the infant (96.9%), letting infant suck on his thumb or finger (87.3%), herbal tea (65%), night bottle (42.1%) and swaddling infant (19.5%). Over 90% of mothers of all nationalities, preferred not to use pacifiers. Soothing herbs were often used, with the commonest being anise (165 mothers used anise). Fennel tea was also used by a substantial number of mothers (75), with gripe water (64), cumin (33), chamomile (32), mint (22) and fenugreek (16) making up most of the rest.

Conclusion: Mothers' ethnicity and nationality strongly impacted on the soothing methods used, with Arabs more often using herbal tea, prone positioning and swaddling to calm infants and illustrate the importance of culture in the upbringing of children from a very early age.

MeSH terms

  • Arabs
  • Crying*
  • Cultural Characteristics*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Maternal Behavior*
  • United Arab Emirates