We all know that gentle rocking induces a feeling of calm and comfort. All new parents instictively rock baby as it is soon obvious that a rocking motion calms and comforts a child. This is because rocking simulates the mothers' movements of the womb which has been baby's home for the last nine months. As children grow they still derive comfort from the rhythm of rocking, although often this can be quite furious as they seek stimulation and excitement
The rocking horses as we know them today appeared in the early seventeenth century. The exact place of origin and the inventor of the rocking horse are unknown. The oldest rocking horse that still exists today is believed to have belonged to King Charles I of England and dates from around 1610. In 2006, it was bought by the Victoria & Albert Museum.
A rocking motion has a soothing effect on all of us. It slows down our heart rate and relaxes us. Sensory stimulation associated with a gentle rocking motion has a synchronizing effect in the brain.
In a scientific study conducted by Kumi Kuroda, it was observed that carrying a baby or rocking motion reduces the heart rate and it works in mice and other mammals as well.
Previous research and the experience of millennia of relieved parents support the fact that rocking helps coax infants to sleep. The new findings suggest the same is true in adults. Yet it was previously unknown whether or not the same is true in other species. The second study found that, at least in mice, it is. Like in the human study, rocking shortened the time it took the mice to fall asleep and increased the amount of sleep time, as measured by EEG recordings. Rocking seems to be the most natural thing in the world for babies, children, adults and even mice.
Rocking (or any type of rocking movement - and particularly rhythmic movement) stimulates the Vestibular and Proprioceptive systems. These are the parts of the nervous system that manage balance and also being able to sense your own body (it’s what stops us adults from banging into furniture every time we walk through the house). It’s also involved in walking upright, sports, writing/ literacy, and many other things.
Some babies crave rocking because it stimulates this part of the nervous system, which is not yet fully developed. The rocking helps the baby “sense” (feel) their own body. The easiest way to explain this is like when you get an injection at the dentist - and you feel like part of your jaw has disappeared. It doesn’t feel “right” - and you want to keep touching it and moving it, just to check it is still there. This is what a baby’s whole body can feel like to them without movement-based interactions. So, rocking, gentle jiggling, and sometimes, just carrying helps these parts of the nervous system mature and also helps calm/ reassure the baby.
Different babies crave different amounts, and also prefer different types of movement Swinging and bouncing in a well-designed baby bouncer or rocking toy can give tired parents a break. But touch-based rocking and movement has the added benefits of helping the baby manage their heart beat, breathing and stress hormones - which also can help explain why babies often fall asleep much easier in our arms. Babies need to react noisily when something isn't right. When they are hungry, tired, lonely, wet, etc., but often they can't calm down again right away after the situation is corrected. Rocking and jiggling is a sensory-induced calm. It is also very pleasurable.
During the 1800s, rocking horses were in high demand and many craftsmen profited from selling rocking horses. New designs appeared, very detailed, some with tails made of real horsehair, finely crafted leather saddles and eyes made of glass. Some of the most elegant wooden horses in England were manufactured by F.H. Ayres. Their horses were renowned for their beautifully modeled body shape and carved details. In recent years, the demand for rocking horses has grown. Some antique ones are sold at shops or auctions for remarkably high prices. Some manufacturers remain faithful to the old ways of production and produce handmade replicas of classic designs.
Rocking horses and rocking toys are especially good for small children because of the exercise they promote and the senses that they stimulate. It has been shown that rocking movements stimulate the vestibular (inner ear) system, which can encourage the child’s growing sense of balance. The sooner a child safely child learns proper balance, the sooner they will be able to move about correctly and not cause any harm to themselves. A rocking horse or rocking toy will give a restless child a way to get out excess energy, which could leave them more willing and able to focus on learning new activities and skills. The movement that the rocking horse requires also helps the child’s muscles learn how to keep them upright and how to perform regular motions. A rocking horse or rocking toy in the nursery or bedroom can also encourage your child to exercise, which will aid you in instilling the discipline of regular physical activity into their lives – something that will be invaluable throughout their growing years.
Helping a very young child to learn to rock can also create a bond between the two of you. Eventually, of course, they will be able to rock on their own, but a rocking horse can give you a safe, easy tool that you can use to teach a child how to move on their own, and also show them that they can trust you. Physical ontact in play is extremely important during a child’s formative years, and can encourage them to maintain a good relationship with you and to make them feel loved and cared for. This is especially true for grandparents who sometimes have limited time with the child and who want visits to be especially rewarding for the child. Fostering an emotional bond between you and a child by helping them play with a rocking horse or rocking toy can be fulfilling for both of you, and will set a meaningful precedent for your many loving interactions to come.
All children get the greatest pleasure out of repetitive activity and a rocking horse or rocking toy makes the perfect gift. From a very early age in a baby bouncer, a child will learn the shere joy and comfort to be had from rocking. We have a fantastic choice of rocking horses and ride-on rocking toys to suit all ages, from babies up to aspiring young horse riders.