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The Breathing Bear: An Intervention for Crying Babies and Their Mothers


Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics: April 2003 - Volume 24 - Issue 2 - p 89-95

ABSTRACT. The Breathing Bear, an optional source of rhythmic stimulation for infants, was investigated for its effects on full-term infants and their mothers. The Bear “breathes” like a normal infant at a rate matching the infant’s. Previous studies have indicated that premature infants prefer a Breathing Bear over a Non-Breathing Bear, and they show neurobehavioral benefits from the exposure. A Breathing Bear was provided for 35 full-term infants, and a Non-Breathing Bear was provided for 37 infants from 5 weeks to 6 months postnatal age, all of whom were considered by their mothers to be fussy. Mothers’ reports of infant crying, ratings of their infants’ temperament, and their own stress and depression were assessed during and after the intervention period. Reported crying did not differentiate the groups. After 6 months, the mothers in the Breathing Bear group rated their infant’s temperament less negatively and themselves less depressed and stressed than the mothers in the Non-Breathing Bear group. Thus, the Breathing Bear had measurable effects on the mothers and a possible impact on the mother-infant relationship.

Biobehavioral Sciences Graduate Degree Program, University of Connecticut, Storrs, Connecticut

Received October 29, 2001; accepted October 29, 2002.

Address for reprints: Evelyn B. Thoman, Ph.D., Department of Family and Child Nursing, University of Washington, Box 357262, Seattle, WA 89195-7262; e-mail:

© 2003 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.