When it comes to raising children, every parent knows that theories abound! What to do with your newborn, what not to do..and the list goes on. It sometimes seems that everyone is an expert except the parents, who must sit back and listen to all sorts of ideas from people who may never be involved in their child’s upbringing!
Especially true is the idea that babies should not be handles and cuddled too much, as this may make them into clingy, dependant adults. While most parents disagree with this statement, it has now been proven conclusively that holding your baby as much as you like will not damage it or make it clingy in later life.
Early bonding and touching is especially important with babies who have been born prematurely. Research has shown that babies who were in the neonatal ICU and received more gentle touching from their parents had a stronger response than those who were not touched as much.
Dr Natalie Maitre, who was instrumental in the research said that more exposure to gentle touch greatly impacted how the brain went about processing the feelings when touched in later years. This sense is very important when learning about social and emotional relationships.
“Our findings add to our understanding that more exposure to these types of supportive touch can actually impact how the brain processes touch, a sense necessary for learning and social-emotional connections,” said Dr. Nathalie Maitre of the their findings.
The study went further, to show that babies who had been subjected to painful procedures had a less positive response to touching in later life. It showed that that painful procedures, which influence the how the brain processes pain, also influence how the brain deals with the process of touch, although this happens in a negative way.
“What is surprising is that painful procedures which are known to impact processing of pain in the brain also impact processing of touch, in a negative way,” Maitre said.
The study concludes with the statement that gentle touching from birth will develop the positive building blocks a person will need for communication and behaviour in later life.
There is absolutely no reason for parents to listen to advice that tells them to stop holding and cuddling their baby as often as they wish. In fact, parents would be the best people in the world to decide just how much touching and cuddling their child needs.
Moms and dads – go ahead and cuddle your newborn – as often as you like!
Source: Scary Mommy