Happy Hump Day Mama! You’re halfway there..
We hope the New Year’s been treating you kindly 🙂 Today, we’re jumping right in, with Part Two of our series on the importance of physical touch in your child’s development. If you missed Part One when we discussed 25 benefits that come from positive, affirming physical touch, you can catch up here.
Today, we’re taking it a step further, and looking at what we can actually do to incorporate loving, meaningful touch into our little one’s lives.
Kangaroo Care gets its name from its similarities to marsupial care. It involves a parent holding their swaddled newborn to their bare chest. For children born preterm or with complications, Kangaroo Care has life altering capabilities (6). In the first hour after birth, skin to skin contact is essential for babies to bond with their parents and regulate their vitals (1). This initial skin to skin time is so important in baby’s growth and development that professionals recommend building time for it into your birthing plan, postponing the normal protocol after birth of washing and weighing baby to prioritize skin to skin time (1).
Infant massage is the next stage of important developmental touch after skin to skin. This type of touch is about bonding, love and respect. It’s important to be read baby’s interactions with you during this time; Trust is a key part of this activity, and it goes without saying that baby needs to trust that you’re not going to hurt them, so pay attention to the physical responses your child may be giving you; whether they are positively engaged or disengaged. Children communicate instinctively from their time they’re born, through physical responses before they can talk so it’s important that you learn to read their cues (1).
Creating positive associations with sleep is a vital part of your child’s development, but it’s also the perfect opportunity to build in positive touch with your little one. Goodnight hugs and kisses are quick and easy ways to increase your physical interactions and massaging their head or back while you read them a goodnight story will help them fall asleep faster and feel more connected to you.
Myth Busters: They Don’t Know What They’re Talking About…
How many times has someone (older than you, most likely) told you that you were gonna spoil your baby picking them up too much? This is one of the most common critiques of moms, most especially from well meaning (?) relatives and family friends, who know that you’re going to regret picking that baby up so much when they won’t leave you alone. Umm, what? Thank you for you concern sir, but we’re not doing that let them cry till they can’t no more, no more.
For generations, the myth that holding a baby too much will ‘spoil them’ has persisted. You’ve likey heard it before, and may have even put some stock in it. Nobody wants a ‘spoiled’ kid and technically, it’s true, they have been raising kids longer than us…
There are two parts to the baby spoiling ideology:
- You should let your baby cry for a while
- You’re holding them too much
“Let Them Cry”
When an infant cries, they need something. They’re not crying for your attention (they don’t even understand those concepts yet) and they’re not trying to be difficult. Babies only cry as method of meeting their needs. This means if your child is crying, they need something from you; a meal, a diaper, a measuring hug (7). When you allow your child to cry for extended periods of time, without responding to them, you being to send silent messages that their needs are not a priority, or that you may not even notice them. These messages will compound as the child grows, and one subjected to this kind of treatment for prolonged periods will begin to show effects, like struggling to create bonds with others, that will follow them into adulthood.