Not a few mums have been told that cuddling or holding their baby ‘too much’ can make the baby clingy, cranky and unwelcoming towards other people than their mothers, but is that an absolute truth? Part of the argument is that cradling your baby too much could cause them to get overly used to your particular touch and smell, which in turn could pile up your stress because your baby doesn’t want to be held by anyone else. A new study, however, shows that there’s no such thing as ‘cuddling’ your baby too much.
Experts say cuddling your baby (early and often!) has huge benefits when it comes to brain development, especially for preemies. That’s major good news for mums with that one friend or family member who likes to scold them for “spoiling” their babies by holding them too often.
According to the study, you can’t EVER cuddle your newborn too much. And in fact, touch is crucial to a baby’s development and actually has some pretty major benefits when it comes to brain development. Researchers at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Ohio observed 125 premature and full-term infants to see how they responded to gentle touch and here’s what they found;
Premature babies were more likely to have a reduced response to touch than the full-term babies. And the preterm babies who had more exposure to painful medical procedures were also more likely to have a reduced response to touch.
According to lead researcher Dr. Nathalie Maitre, there is proof that gentle, supportive touch actually helps brain development.
“Making sure that preterm babies receive positive, supportive touch such as skin-to-skin care by parents is essential to help their brains respond to gentle touch in ways similar to those of babies who experienced an entire pregnancy inside their mother’s womb,”
“When parents cannot do this, hospitals may want to consider occupational and physical therapists to provide a carefully planned touch experience, sometimes missing from a hospital setting.”
A great idea. And in fact, Dr. Maitre and her colleagues are now designing new ways to provide positive touch in the NICU. In the meantime, go ahead and cradle your baby to your heart’s content because your touch matters to your baby.