Of course, cuddling is an important expression of love. You might think your baby is too small to understand love, but you're wrong! Babies do understand love, and cuddling is essential to develop and nurture the parent-child bond.
So, do babies need to be cuddled? Yes! Holding and cuddling your newborn baby is absolutely necessary.
However, the importance of cuddling goes beyond a simple expression of love. There are actual health benefits involved here! Let's dive in and find out.
5 Benefits Of Cuddling Your Baby
Yes, cuddling with your baby has actual health benefits, both for you and your baby. So, what happens when you cuddle a baby? Let's take a look at five reasons why cuddling your baby is important.
1. Cuddling Reduces Stress
Cuddling can help to reduce stress for both you and your baby. When you cuddle, your body releases oxytocin (also known as the "cuddle hormone" or the "love hormone") and endorphins – both of which have been shown to have positive effects on health.
Oxytocin has been linked with lower blood pressure and reduced stress levels, while endorphins are known to boost mood and reduce pain. For babies, oxytocin has been shown to reduce crying and improve overall mood.
2. Cuddling Boosts Immunity
When you cuddle skin-to-skin with your baby, you are not only providing them with warmth and comfort, but you are also helping to boost their immunity. Skin-to-skin contact helps develop your baby's microbiota. Basically, your baby's body responds to the millions of microbes on your skin and makes its own immune system stronger. This is particularly important in preventing allergies in the long run.
And research has also shown that babies who are frequently cuddled are more likely to gain weight and develop normally than those who are not, primarily because when they are cuddled they do not have to use their own calories to stay warm. So, cuddle your baby!
3. Cuddling Promotes Bonding
As any parent knows, babies require a lot of care and attention. From feeding and bathing to changing diapers and soothing crying fits, newborns and babies in general can quickly wear down even the most patient caregiver.
However, amidst all the chaos, it is important to find time to simply cuddle your baby. This physical affection helps to promote bonding and emotional attachment. In addition, cuddling has a calming effect on both babies and parents, reducing stress levels and promoting relaxation.
Additionally, cuddling with the baby is considered extremely important for mothers who have postpartum depression. Skin-to-skin contact, too, is important when it comes to postnatal depression or PPD.
So, take a moment to step back and enjoy a quiet cuddle with your little one. It just might be the best thing for both of you.
4. Cuddling Can Help Baby Sleep Better
Any new parent will quickly learn that a baby's sleep patterns are often unpredictable. But while it may not be possible to control when your baby sleeps, there are some things you can do to encourage better sleep. One of them is cuddling.
Research has shown that babies who are regularly held and cuddled sleep better than those who are not. One reason for this is that physical contact helps to stimulate the release of oxytocin. In addition, cuddling helps babies to feel safe and secure, which also encourages deeper and longer sleep.
So if you're struggling to get your baby to sleep through the night, try snuggling them before bedtime. It might help them (and you) get a better night's rest.
5. Cuddling Your Baby Seems to Impact Their DNA
Yes, we know it sounds surprising! A preliminary study conducted in 2017 and published in the Development and Psychopathology Journal found that cuddling your baby may actually impact their DNA. According to the study, "early postnatal contact has lasting associations with child biology."
Essentially, the study (which focused on 94 babies aged 5 weeks) found that babies who were regularly and frequently cuddled during infancy had different levels of certain genes when compared to babies who were not cuddled as frequently. The epigenetic changes in DNA were noted four and a half years later when the now-grown babies' genetic material was examined. Kids who were not cuddled as often as babies had a lower "epigenetic age," which is known to impact healthy development.
So there you have it – five benefits of cuddling your baby. The benefits of cuddling babies are clearly too important to ignore! You should cuddle, snuggle, and massage your little one as often as possible — physical touch is essential.
If you're not already cuddling your little one very regularly, we hope this has inspired you to start.
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