Research shows that cuddling your baby (early and often!) has huge benefits when it comes to brain development, especially for preemies.

Over the years, there has been mixed messaging on how often you should hold your child, with a social stigma sometimes associated with holding them “too much”. But we have found several studies that show holding your infant with a gentle touch has significant benefits that range from early brain development, to body weight & bone growth, to lower anxiety as they become adults.

The many benefits of holding your baby

Dr. Nathalie Maitre’s research at the Nationwide Children’s Hospital and Vanderbilt University Medical Center explained that "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." She went further to suggest that "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."

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Read the full Parents.com article here.

The parent-child bond is more than emotional; it’s biological.

Babies also have reflexes that help them hold onto their mother’s body in every way possible. The ‘Moro reflex’ allows babies to quickly cling to a parent if they feel like they are falling, and similarly, babies instinctively grasp a finger or object placed in their palm. In addition, the classic M-shaped position of babies’ legs (knees being the top peaks of the M) makes it comfortable for an adult to carry them laid on their chest. This is also the ideal position for optimal hip development. And tired parents across the globe know that carrying a baby around is sometimes the only way to soothe them. A recent study proved that walking around a room holding your baby is worth the effort (and baby carriers may be worth their cost!)

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Read the full BabyScience.info article here.

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So, for new parents, including those whose young children must undergo difficult medical procedures, take heart: your touch matters more than you know. Holding your kids as much and as often as you like, may lead to a happier and healthier human being in the long run.

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