Study: Skin-to-Skin Touching of Baby-and-Mom Improves Baby’s Nervous System and Brain Functioning
Dr Ruth Feldman, from Bar-Ilan University and Yale’s Ruth Feldman has published research with an important lesson for parents: the mother’s and baby’s skin touching has lifelong neurological and psychological benefits (and other benefits for the brain) for babies, especially for babies born prematurely.
“What we found was that the children in the kangaroo-care group had better cognitive skills, sleep patterns and a higher functioning autonomic nervous system, better able to cope with stress,” Feldman told ISRAEL21c. “And their mothers were more sensitive parents.”
The adult providing the skin-to-skin contact does not have to be the baby’s mother – or so it would seem.
“There is a physiological response from skin to skin that is absent with fabric,” she says. “And it is the only way to guarantee thermoregulation — keeping a baby warm outside of the incubator.”
Nor does this contact require more than one hour daily. Feldman says there is no evidence to suggest that more time makes a neurological difference down the road. However, she believes the effects on the infant are linked to those experienced by the mother. Rather than forfeit breastfeeding, for example, the kangaroo mothers tend to want to pump their milk until the baby is strong enough to suckle.
Although the study focused on babies born prematurely, it seems to be more applicable widely. There’s a clear to-do action item here: hug your baby, without wearing a shirt (neither you nor the baby!), more often. The science now shows: hugging is a good for your mind. And, although the science has yet shown it, we predict it will is also good for your soul.