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A Moment of Science

A Parent’s Touch

A parent's caress is crucial to babies' health and growth.

A mother holds her infant's hand.

Photo: Feggy Art (Flickr)

Parent and baby have a bonding moment.

Despite all the faddish parenting books out there, raising a baby is pretty intuitive. When a baby cries, most parents know that the best thing to do is pick her up and hold her. There’s just something about a parent’s touch that makes the baby feel good.

The Magic of Touch

In fact, touch is crucial for a baby’s healthy development. Stroking and massaging your infant help trigger growth-promoting hormones, and increase the production of enzymes that make the baby’s organs more receptive to these hormones. Touching and massaging your little one also help increase the production of hormones that make her digestive system more efficient.

A parent’s touch is similar to when a dog licks her newborn pups. Research has shown that puppies deprived of their mother’s caressing tongue produced less growth hormone, and consequently stopped growing. Likewise, human infants deprived of touch do not grow as well or as quickly. Not even an injection of growth hormone can reverse the effect.

The benefits of parenthood are tangible! What’s good for the baby is good for its parents. If your infant is relaxed and healthy, you’ll spend less time worrying and more time enjoying your little bundle of joy.

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