All you need is love, sang the Beatles. Turns out, this sentiment is especially true for babies.
Showering our wee ones with cuddles, gentle touch, and affection can be beneficial to childhood development, according to new science. Specifically, researchers have found that infants shown lots of love through skin-to-skin contact have improved neurodevelopment, higher IQ, and lower rates of aggression in small children. Frequent touching can also increase breastfeeding success and can make certain medical procedures less painful.
Look, I hear you. Do we really need research to tell us that loving on our babies is the way to go? Of course not. Even if we have that Aunt Sally who warns that we’re spoiling our newborn, we know that cuddling our babies is good for them (and us). It forms the first bond we have with our baby. It shows the baby that she is loved.
But just last week, a new study was released that sheds further light on the importance of skin-to-skin contact between babies and their caregivers. Researchers from a children’s hospital observed 125 newborns, both premature and full-term, to compare how these two sets responded to touch.
Overall, the findings demonstrated that premature babies were more likely to have a reduced response to touch than their full-term counterparts. Also, preemies with more exposure to painful medical procedures had an even greater reduced response to touch.
But, preemies that received frequent gentle touch showed a stronger response to touch. The researchers found that this kind of touch could have positive and long-lasting effects on these babies. The bottom line? Loving touch is crucial for babies’ developing brains.
Okay, admittedly, babies may need more than love, like changing, feeding, and burping (sorry Beatles). But science here solidifies what we already know – giving our newborns lots of love and affection is a powerful thing. So the next time Grandma or Grandpa has hold of little Johnny, let them hold him a little longer before naptime.