Stimulation through Touch (Infancy)
Julia Mitchell-Hoffman, Behaviorist
Have you ever held a newborn baby? It is a feeling that can be overwhelming as
you hold in your hands a precious life that is totally dependent on his/her
caretakers. This little precious one
needs to be held with care, with love and close. New moms are often asked to hold their infants
skin to skin immediately after their arrival.
It has been found to help the baby to breath better; regulates the baby’s
temperature and glucose and indications that the newborn shows much less signs
Newborns that feel a
sense of physical stability normally will search for and latch on to the momma’s
breast. Mom may gently guide their baby
to the breast and gently stroke the side of the baby’s cheek s they begin to
suckle. This gentle touch can strengthen
the attachment between both mom and her baby.
This precious time can be the reassurance for many new moms’ that they
will be able to meet the needs of the child.
Daddy should also build his attachment to his little one by using the
skin to skin technique.
In the weeks to come holding and cuddling with your infant
become even more important to help your infant know that he/she is safe and can
trust you to meet their needs. Touch
says “I love you” and that “I am right here for you.” This is a basic need that your baby needs to flourish. Many of the activities you will be doing with
your baby are opportunities to touch your child (diapering; feeding; singing t
your baby; bathing, etc.)
Infant massage can
also be introduced to a baby with gentle strokes. You will want to be very aware of these
encounters and monitor your baby’s reactions.
If they seem to like the touch repeat them. If not, try again at a later time. It is suggested to build massage into the
baby’s schedule throughout the day, again following your baby’s lead as when baby
is done. These gentle caresses can also
be done by dad!
Different textures in your baby’s surrounding will also
provide opportunities for touch. As your
baby sleeps he/she will feel the softness of the cotton sheets or the blanket
grandma made for him/her. When mommy
holds her baby she may feel the gentleness of the silk shirt se is wearing
compared the more rough feeling of daddy’s flannel shirt. Your baby may feel the scratchiness of daddy’s
whiskers one day and the smoothness of his skin after he has shaved. The
baby may feel the sunbeams that gently rest on him/her or the gentle breeze
coming in from the window.
Touch is an important part of the development between
parents and their child. Touch your
child with love and with gentle reassurance that are indeed loved.