The importance of touch and holding for your child’s brain development
Human touch has a significant impact on our lives. During the lifespan, humans use touch to interact with others, exhibit affection, seek support, and develop relationships. Feeling the power of touch begins before a baby is even born. Research has shown that touch is one of the first senses to develop, which begins by 8 weeks of pregnancy. Your baby in the womb is able to respond to the sensation of touch and even when your baby is born he/she uses their own touch and the touch of others to help pacify them when they enter new environments.1
Your baby needs close physical contact for proper growth and development just as they need food to grow and develop. Each time you touch your baby, new connections are made in your baby’s brain. Touch is also an important nutrient for both the brain and the body.1,2 All forms of touch have positive influence but skin-to-skin contact, especially with mothers, is predominantly powerful.3
Following are a few tips to stimulate your child’s brain through touch.
- Gentle caresses – Most babies love tickling sensation! You can rub your baby’s bellies with your lips or try gently tickling their tummies and legs. You could also try blowing on your babies' belly, fingers, toes or wherever they seem to enjoy.1
- Massage – You can give gentle massage to your baby by rubbing and stroking them. You need to find out what kind of strokes your baby enjoys and which part of their body they like to have massaged.1
- Exposure to different textures – Expose baby to different textures such as fake fur, silk, velvet and terry cloth. You can also place your baby on a variety of surfaces such as carpet or fake fur coat. This will allow babies to feel different things.1
- Toys Give your baby toys that have interesting textures. For example, a soft teddy bear or a coarse-haired one, soft terry cloth blocks and wooden ones.1
- Canadian Association of Paediatric Health Centres. THE POWER OF HUMAN TOUCH FOR BABIES. Available from: https://static1.squarespace.com/static/50056474c4aa4387b4e629ea/t/5719260ac2ea517c03d5d582/1461265930827/The_Power_of_Human_Touch_for_Babies.pdf. Accessed on 22nd June 2017.
- Stimulation during the first year of life. Available from: http://parenting-ed.org/handouts/stimulation.pdf. As accessed on 15 June 2017.
- Building Baby’s Intelligence: Why Infant Stimulation Is So Important. Available from: http://cchp.ucsf.edu/sites/cchp.ucsf.edu/files/buildbabyinten081803_adr.pdf. As accessed on 15 June 2017.