Significance of Touch for Infant Well-Being

Human beings need to be touched. When you touch another human being by hugging them, holding their hand, or pulling them in for a cuddle, you make them feel safe and welcomed. The same is true for babies. 

Infants require immense skin-to-skin contact and touch. That’s because babies find touch nurturing. It makes them feel loved, allows you to bond with them, and boosts their overall well-being. 

As a parent, cradling your child for a few minutes drastically benefits their health, but the question arises how? To understand the significance of touch, here’s what you need to know:

What Does Touch Tell You?

New mothers are encouraged to hold their babies to their chests after birth. This act allows warmth from the mother’s skin to seep into the child’s body. When a baby feels comfortable, they respond positively by moving closer to their mother or grasping their mother’s finger in their hand. These signs inform you as a mother that the birth went smoothly and your baby is doing well. On the other hand, if you initiate skin-to-skin contact with your baby and fail to see a response, that should alarm you. Babies naturally relax around their mothers after the first touch, but if they aren’t responding, seem stiff, have labored breathing, or seem paralyzed in one arm, you may be dealing with a birth injury. 

According to the CDC, seven in every thousand children are born with a birth injury. These occur for various reasons, such as troubled labor or the recklessness of the delivery team while assisting you in giving birth. If your baby is injured due to the hospital staff’s negligence, you are well within your rights to file a lawsuit. Consult an expert birth injury lawyer and file a claim against the guilty party. As a parent, you and your child deserve justice, which a dedicated and seasoned birth injury lawyer can help you achieve.

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Benefits of Touch for an Infant

The simple act of holding your child, stroking their head, and cradling them is beneficial for your baby’s health – here’s why:

  • Encourages Brain Development

Positive touch releases serotonin in your baby’s body. So, whenever you pick them or rock them from side to side, their brain releases this neurotransmitter that regulates their emotions, making them feel happy and cherished. The continuous production of serotonin also encourages the brain to produce other neurochemicals, such as oxytocin. It’s a stress-regulating hormone that is released upon close physical contact. High levels of oxytocin keep the baby happy, create an ideal environment for the brain to grow, and encourage the baby to seek social bonds. 

When oxytocin mingles with dopamine, it boosts your baby’s development. Hence, don’t be surprised if your child shows signs of rapid progress, like learning to walk faster or mimicking any behavior you do. 

Babies deprived of touch show symptoms of regression. These children may not respond to touch, have severe anxiety, express little happiness, and always be stressed. For a developing child, this is detrimental to their brain health.

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  • Regulates Their Body Temperature

When babies are born, their bodies are still getting used to life after birth. And this means they may have trouble regulating their skin temperature in the atmosphere, which can cause extreme discomfort. During your pregnancy, your womb maintains your baby’s temperature, but once they are born, their body’s internal regulatory system needs time to adhere to this new environment. So, that’s where you come in -touching your baby and keeping them close to you can provide your child with warmth. 

Soon, your baby’s body will adjust to this incredibly soothing sensation. Think of yourself as a heater for your child. 

  • Allows You to Bond with Your Baby

As a new parent, you need time to bond with your child, and the best way to achieve this is by touching them. Hugs and cuddles also boost your serotonin and dopamine levels; you feel love, affection, and a deep sense of kinship with your child. Your baby also feels welcomed, safe, and protected in your arms. 

Consequently, as your baby grows older, they may ask you for hugs, run to you when distressed, and need you around anytime they feel uncomfortable. Such behavior shows not only does your child trust you, they feel safe around you, which further signifies that you have bonded immensely with your offspring.

  • Improves The Heart and Lung Function

A newborn has a high heart rate and may also breathe rapidly since their body is dramatically transitioning for life outside the womb. But simply holding your child and touching them, such as rubbing their hands, lightly grazing their back, or patting their head, can slow down these body reactions. 

Your baby’s physiological system will mimic how your heart and lungs function, which helps set a rhythm for your baby’s organs. You’ll notice that holding your baby causes their breathing rate to become more consistent and also relaxes their heartbeat, allowing it to pump at a comfortable pace.

  • Boosts Their Immune System

Blood is the main pipeline for a healthy immune system. Your child’s immunity is still developing as an infant, which means they are susceptible to numerous diseases and infections that can occur anytime. However, through massage therapy and regularly rubbing your child’s muscles, you can increase the blood circulation level to their limbs. 

Massage also triggers your baby’s pressure points, which release neurotransmitters around the body. So, along with more blood reaching their limbs, positive biochemicals flow through every inch of their body. In this manner, you will notice that your baby doesn’t get sick often, is highly energetic, and responds positively to touch.

Final thoughts

Human beings need touch for survival. Our bodies naturally respond to touch and crave the feeling of being held. The same logic applies to babies. Infants need warmth and affection to regulate their body processes. Hence, as a parent, the more love you shower your child with, the more positively they will respond. Whether stroking your child’s back or holding them, touch is essential for your baby’s health. Their brain produces an influx of neurotransmitters that encourage growth and keeps the baby healthy. Likewise, nurturing touch enables your baby to regulate its body temperature and adjust to its environment in no time.

Similarly, touching your baby is a great way to establish a bond and develop a close relationship. Holding them close also improves lung and heart function, and massaging your child benefits their circulation, indirectly boosting their immunity.