Showering your baby with hugs and kisses is only natural; however, did you know that those hugs are actually helping your child’s brain develop?
The findings of a new study show that the more you hug a baby, the stronger and more their brains will grow. The study was conducted by the Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Ohio; they studied 125 babies, both premature and full-term. The purpose was to see how their brains responded to physical touch and the results were, although not surprising, very telling.
“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,” Dr. Nathalie Maitre, a researcher, tells Science Daily.
Bonding and loving our children doesn’t only feel good, but it’s a feeling that parents could only describe as powerful and blissful. That blissful and happy feeling is all thanks to a wonderful, magical chemical that is made in our own bodies — oxytocin.
The ‘love chemical’ in our bodies, Oxytocin, is responsible for many of our behaviors; including reproductive and maternal behaviors.
During a mother’s pregnancy, mother-baby bonding has already begun. A mother’s body releases oxytocin which will encourage positive behaviors before the baby is even born. After the baby is born, skin-to-skin touch and consistent affection show increased levels of oxytocin in both the baby and the parent. This oxytocin stimulates healthy emotional and social development in babies; it can also help their ability to combat stress.
After the official study, the proof was in the pudding; that bonding with one’s child, through touch, especially hugging, increases oxytocin in the body. This not only establishes and promotes a healthy relationship between the parent and child, but it can also reduce social deficits as the child grows older.
Something as simple as rocking a baby back and forth or having any form of bodily contact can have a significant impact on their brain development.
Since the beginnings of the human race, oxytocin has been responsible for allowing mothers to have a loving, healthy relationship with their child. It’s how we’ve survived as a human species; the bonding feeling after the oxytocin release creates the need and longing for us to want to protect our families and offspring.
Essentially, affection and love are absolutely vital to the development of the human brain. So, make sure to hug your babies every chance you get.
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