New research is saying that it’s impossible to hold your baby too much, so you should cuddle up with your children as much as possible.
Researchers at the Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Ohio looked at 125 premature and full-term infants. They ended up concluding that holding your baby is more crucial to brain development than previously assumed.
The researchers wanted to see how babies responded to gentle touch, and they found that preemies were less likely to respond to touching than their full-term peers. Unfortunately, they also discovered that preemies who had been exposed to painful medical procedures were also less likely to respond to touch.
Thankfully, the researchers also found that premature babies who experienced an increased amount of gentle touch from parents or NICU staff responded more strongly to that gentle touching than babies who were held less often. Lead researcher Dr. Nathalie Maitre stated that this shows that gentle touching, which includes rocking and skin-to-skin contact, helps with 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,” Maitre said.
She went on to say that hospitals should try harder to ensure infants get this important contact, as it can give them benefits that last a lifetime.
“When parents cannot do this, hospitals may want to consider occupational and physical therapists to provide a carefully planned touch experience, [which is] sometimes missing from a hospital setting,” Maitre said.
It’s important for dads to remember that moms aren’t the only ones who should be holding their kids a lot, as they need to do so as well.
In the video below this story, you’ll meet a grandpa who has taken this to heart and volunteers in an NICU as a baby holder. There, he cradles preemies and gives them the body contact that they need!