“To touch can be to give life” – Michelangelo
Touch is essential to our human development.
From the moment a baby is born, the need for tactile stimulation, or touch, is essential for their growth development, learning ability, and literally to survive and thrive.
Infants use touch as their primary form of communication and as a powerful healing force when needed.
Extensive research has been done and published on the effects of human touch.
Young children have an innate need to be loved, nurtured, and develop trust and attachment.
When touch is absent, striking negative impacts generally occur. These impacts may include delayed development in the child’s growth, higher stress levels, increased illnesses, and a multitude of other issues when attachment and proper bonding is absent from parents.
All forms of touch have positive impacts on babies, but skin-to-skin contact, especially with mothers, has been found to be particularly powerful.
Here are just a few benefits you will find by your loving touch:
- The touch of a mother, familiar adult, or sibling can help ill infants cope better with pain
- Will keep heart beating at a normal and constant rate
- Supports healthy weight gain
- Improves sleep
- Increases rate of breastfeeding
- Enhances parent-child bonding
- Improves both the parent’s and child’s mental health
- Decreases crying
- Decreases infant illnesses
- Creates a stronger immune system
- Creates healthier brain development
- Improves beginning language skills
- Decreases hospital stays
- Improves healthy oxygen levels
With all said and done, remember, we all have different types of touch that parents and others can provide. The types of touch that are appropriate often depend on the environment and context the baby is in.
Gentle skin-to-skin touching tends to have the best positive effect overall. Holding or rocking is beneficial for physiological responses and regulation after a painful procedure. And infant massage seems to improve better sleep patterns.
The act of touching stimulates sensors throughout the skin to muscles, joints, and nerve endings. When the baby is being touched or touches something familiar, the brain receives a message from the skin to stimulate the sensors.
The more pleasant the tactile stimulation received through touch or other sensory activities is overall, the better for the child.