All parents out there who cannot keep their arms off their kids are on the right path, and their children will thank them for it one day.
Namely, researchers have found that hugging, as a form of physical affection, during the developmental period of the baby, is extremely important. The affection showed through touch stimulates the growth of their brains, and they become smarter.
Researchers at the Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Ohio studied 125 babies, born both preterm and full-term, and analyzed the way light physical touch affects their brain development perception, cognition, and social development.
The survey found that early, gentle displays of affection from parents and caregivers have lasting effects on the way the baby brains react to gentle touch. Therefore, early exposure to hugs could help pre-term babies experience affection as pleasant rather than overwhelming while also stimulating positive brain responses.
Touch is the first sense to develop. They discovered that supportive experiences, like breastfeeding, skin-to-skin care, affectionate hugs, and similar, triggered strong brain responses which helped the brain to develop faster and more healthily.
As soon as the baby is born, it’s time for skin-to-skin contact and guiding the baby toward breastfeeding. Just the holding of the baby within the first hour normalizes the baby’s body temperature, heartbeat, and pattern of breathing.
On the other hand, painful experiences, like skin punctures and tube insertions, inhibited the brain responses to the same touch stimuli.
The results indicated that babies subjected to more affection by parents or hospital staff showed stronger brain response. Therefore, being gentle with your baby will contribute to the development of their brain.
According to Dr. Nathalie Maitre, the lead researcher behind this study, the body contact to your child or rocking them in your arms, makes a huge difference in the development of their brains.
“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.”
Regardless of the stage of life, love and affection are the key to development!
While researchers are struggling to discover the ways our brain assimilates touch in regard to our development, parents feel the natural urge to hug, cuddle, and soothe their children.
We all crave for love, honesty, and safety, and a simple hug fosters those feelings in all of us!