I don’t know about you, but when I was pregnant with my first baby I studied the truth behind all sorts of old wives tales in the hope of giving bub the best possible start to life. As a result of this research I played classical musical to her, to encourage brain development; I stayed clear of caffeine, sushi, soft serve ice-cream and all sorts of other ‘nasties’ so as to not upset either her or myself; and I continually rubbed or tickled my belly whilst talking to bub just to let her know that she was loved. But new research has now shown that these prenatal backrubs may have been helping her to become a more emotionally stable person. More on that in a moment…
Once a baby is born they are often swiftly placed on their mum’s or caregiver’s chest. We all know that the common reason for this is to allow a bond to establish between bub and mum. It has long been wondered whether this contact could also provide a good foundation for successful breastfeeding. A study conducted by Cochrane confirmed that this initial contact does, indeed, help promote better breastfeeding practices, as well as help for a smoother transition into the world for baby. But this initial contact could also be helping to make baby a better communicator. More on that in a moment to …
Once your baby was born, how often were you advised not to coddle them too much? I know I had good meaning friends and family telling me not to cuddle bub to sleep for fear of them getting too accustomed to it; or being told not to cuddle them too much for fear of them not being able to entertain themselves. But I couldn’t help it. I found myself often cuddling bub to sleep or just picking her up because my heart was overflowing with love and pride and I wanted to hold her. Little did I know that I could have been helping her to become a more sociable person.
Now for that explanation:
Reuters Health has recently released the results of a study about how touch can shape a baby’s brain development. The study confirmed that non-essential touching – that is cuddling bub just for the sake of it, as opposed to holding for just feeding or changing – can help shape how a baby’s brain responds to social and emotional connections. Further, the study showed that gentle touches to a newborn baby may help develop their cognitive functions as well as aid in the development of communication and behaviour.
The long-term study found that the babies who had more non-essential touching had larger grey brain matter and increased maturation of the cerebral cortex. Dr Nathalie Maitre explains what these results mean: “these types of supportive touch can actually impact how the brain processes touch” which is a sense “necessary for learning and social-emotional connections”. This is easily understood when we consider how much babies learn through touch and how they use touch and sound as a way of interaction with their surroundings.
So all-in-all what you can take away from this is the peace of mind when you choose to ignore nosy Aunt Edna when she tells you to not cuddle your baby so much!
For more information on infant development, please do not hesitate to contact KIDS. Alternatively, complete the form below, and one of our friendly team members will contact you.
Moore, E.R., Bergman, N. Anderson, GC. & Medley, N. (2016). Early skin-to-skin contact for mothers and their healthy newborn infants. [online]
Rapaport, L. (2016). How Touch can Shape Babies’ Brain Development. [online]