The more you love on and hug your babies, the more their brains develop according to a new study published by Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Ohio. Its findings show important information needed in caring for babies, premature ones especially. 125 babies, both premature and full-term, were included in the study, which looked at how well they responded to being physically touched. It turns out that loving on our new babies and showing them affection is incredibly important in their brain development. “We showed that, when controlling for pre-maturity and analgesics, supportive experiences (e.g., breastfeeding, skin-to-skin care) are associated with stronger brain responses.” (source)
According to researcher Dr. Nathalie Maitre, this last revelation tells us that something as simple as body contact or rocking your baby in your arms will make a big difference in how their brains develop.
“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,” Maitre tells Science Daily.
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And it’s not just stronger brain response-the benefits of kangaroo care are numerous: The baby has a stable heart rate (no bradycardia), more regular breathing (a 75 percent decrease in apneic episodes), improved oxygen saturation levels, no cold stress, longer periods of sleep, more rapid weight gain, more rapid brain development, reduction of “purposeless” activity, decreased crying, longer periods of alertness, more successful breastfeeding episodes, and earlier hospital discharge. (source)
In infants in kangaroo care, researchers found that coupling takes place after only ten minutes. This hardly seemed possible because it equaled four weeks of brain development in the “normal” premie. As researchers studied brain wave patterns of infants in kangaroo care, they found two significant things. First, there was a doubling of alpha waves—the brain wave pattern associated with contentment and bliss. Second, they found that “delta brushes” were occurring. Delta brushes happen only when new synapses are being formed. So holding the infant skin-to-skin allows his or her brain to continue its work of developing neural synapses. (source)
So snuggle your babes and breathe in that sweet baby smell-it’s good for them!