While it may be hard to believe, children experience stress just like we do as adults. We, as adults, have had plenty of time to learn how to manage stress, babies have not. While some people argue that a glass of wine a day is enough to keep away stress or working out regularly is the best way to remain stress free, babies don’t have the ability to do these things! So, what is the key to a stress-free childhood? Is it a glass of warm milk? A mommy and me gymnastics class? It’s none of these things. One thing is especially important to having a stress-free and relaxing childhood: touch! That’s right, one simple touch reduces stress in everyone, but especially children.
If you don’t believe me, just ask the doctor! Doctors believe that children who are calmed with touch learn what the emotional regulation process is like and therefore are able to calm themselves better later on in life. Not only does a touch calm a child in the moment, but it reduces stress far into adulthood. Touch helps children manage stress when faced with anxieties. So, picking up your baby when they start to cry gives them a change to learn how to calm themselves down in the future. Additionally, touch helps prevent pain in the baby. A study performed in 2000 found that “full-term babies who were held close by their mothers during a heel lance or stick — a simple, minimally-invasive procedure used to gather blood samples — cried and grimaced less than babies who were swaddled in a crib during the procedure, and their heart rates were also more relaxed.”1 Babies benefit from touch from the moment they are born and provide caregivers and parents with similar benefits as well. Holding a baby reduces maternal stress and builds a relationship between the baby and the holder.
Every moment of touch gives a child an opportunity to mature, learn, and cope better. Meaningful touch is necessary for survival and a healthy life as they grow!
- Pearson, Catherine. “The Incredible Benefits Of Simply Holding Your Baby Close.” HuffPost, HuffPost, 23 Oct. 2015, www.huffpost.com/entry/the-incredible-benefits-of-simply-holding-your-baby-close_n_5626700fe4b08589ef491176.