Please Cuddle Your Baby and/or Child

We spend the first 9 (ish) months of our lives encased in the womb surrounded by fluid. We are constantly being touched by it.  We hear our mother’s heartbeat and feel the vibrations ripple down through the amniotic fluid to our body as it gently caresses our skin.  As we get bigger and take up more space in the womb, the touch and pressure on us increases from the boundary of our mothers’ skin, and her hand as she strokes and rubs her ever extending abdomen. 

As we are born (if it’s not via caesarean) we are embraced and touched as we move out of the womb down the birth canal and enter the world.  If everything is fine we are then placed in our mother’s arms and touched and soothed.  Placed on her chest for the reassurance that we are held and then, so importantly to feed.  Skin to skin time is so important and vital with both parents when we are new-born.

I have done a lot of reading about the importance of touch with babies.  Studies have been carried out which show that premature babies who are held for 15 minutes, 3 times a day, increase their weight gain by up to 47%.  Babies who are regularly massaged have higher intelligence levels and their brains are more developed than those who are touch deprived.  We have millions of touch receptors in our skin that start to be stimulated, possibly before our mothers even realised they were pregnant.  There is a reason that babies and children tend to stop crying when they are picked up and cuddled.  It sends signals to the brain that everything is ok.  It helps to reduce the fight or flight response that is caused by stress/ anxiety/worry/panic because we are cold and feeling alone and want to know we aren’t, or because we just fell over unexpectedly.

We crave being touched from the moment we are born until the day we die because of how it makes us feel.  When we are born we are utterly helpless and vulnerable.  Skin to skin time, cuddles, baby massage and touch means that the touch receptors in our skin are stimulated sending soothing signals to the brain.  This makes you feel better because you know you aren’t alone and your brain releases feel-good hormones.  This is why when you are feeling rubbish a hug from a friend, parent, sibling, boy/girlfriend or husband/wife can make you take a deep breath and release the tension you are holding.

We are made to touch and to be touched.  You can’t ‘spoil’ your baby by holding and cuddling them too much.  The more you cuddle them the better.  Enjoy that precious skin to skin time whilst they are tiny and the millions of cuddles that follow during the first year and beyond.  Never feel that you can’t cuddle your child.

  • Juliet Powell

    25th June 2017 at 2:33 am Reply

    Katie, I love this post. Thankyou. I work with a breastfeeding support group, and so much of nurturing a newborn is about being held and touched by mum.

    • Katie Ruane

      26th June 2017 at 1:42 pm Reply

      Dear Juliet – thank you so much for taking the time to read it and to comment. I’m so pleased that you liked the post, and please feel free to share it with your breastfeeding support group. The support you provide is so important for mothers to enable them to breastfeed their baby.

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