Gentle hugs can do wonders for baby’s brain, and scientists encourage mothers to hug their children more often
Hugs are more powerful than you can ever imagine. There’s something special about the hugs you share with your loved ones. It’s a way of communicating without saying a word. Hug someone to show your love, respect and appreciation for them.
According to science, hugs can make you smarter. Researchers have found that kids who get more hugs actually have more developed brains.
Babies and brain development
Babies explore the world by touching everything around them. It’s the first sense they develop. In an article from Stanford’s Medicine, Dr. Susan Crowe, an obstetrician, and director at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital, listed nine instinctual stages babies go through after birth.
“Birth cry, relaxation, awakening, activity, resting, ‘crawling’ (a shifting movement toward the breast), familiarization, suckling, and sleep.”
Holding the baby on bare chest helps normalize the baby’s body temperature and heartbeat. It also affects the baby’s breathing and babies stop crying. It’s the perfect bonding time for the mother and her baby.
The same article offers an explanation on the power of infant massages. Maureen McCaffre, a certified infant message instructor at Packard’s Children Hospital, listed the benefits of infant massage.
- Babies sleep better
- Babies feel loved and secure
- Their digestion is improved and their bowel movements are regular
- Babies feel comfortable
- Improved weight gain
- Mothers and babies are relaxed
- Improved neurological function
Similar study conducted at the University of Washington determined the area of the brain in which babies register “felt” touch and “observed touch.” Believe it or not, babies make a difference between an actual physical touch and an image of a hand touching someone.
By 7 months old, babies “understand the concept of their self,” and also know their bodies are separate from other people.
The power of touch
Babies understand that their hands and foot move similarly to another person’s body parts well before they learn the words. They just imitate others and mimic their motion.
A report in Pediatrics Child Health, released in PMC, focused on several simple studies. One of the studies showed that 10-minute handling in ten weeks makes deprived babies feel better. Limb movement was used as a form of sensory stimulation. No one thought that 10 minutes of handling can make the babies “spit up” less.
In premature babies, simple stroking of their arms and legs and mild limb movement can actually promote weight gain, alertness, mobility, adaptation to repeated stimuli and awareness of their body parts. Within a year, babies had better weight and improved motor skills.
Oxytocin and hugs
Oxytocin is a hormone released from the pituitary gland. The production of this neurotransmitter is increased during breastfeeding, orgasm and hugs.
Healthy oxytocin levels improve the bond between a mother and her child. Breastfeeding boosts hormone levels in babies, remember?
Oxytocin is known as the “love hormone” or the “hug hormone.” It’s complicated and scientists first thought it only aids in uterine contractions during birth. Thorough research showed that oxytocin has a direct impact on the body when released into the brain. Oxytocin has an impact on our cognitive, emotional, and social behavior.
An article in the journal Nature revealed the results of several studies based on oxytocin and its impact on behavior.
Researchers observed female mice who had never given birth to crying babies. They had almost no reaction to the cries. When injected with oxytocin, the mice responded as mother normally do.
It was found that oxytocin reduces some neurons. It enhanced cries, making them more important. That’s how mothers distinguish their kid’s cries from other babies.
A study released in the American Psychological Association included information on women at different stages of their pregnancy. There were three groups – first trimester, third trimester, and the first month after birth. It was found that women with a high level of oxytocin in the first trimester had better bonds with their children.
The same applies to women with high levels of this hormone throughout their pregnancy.
Oxytocin and brain development
Oxytocin is complex. People who boost your levels of oxytocin make you feel safe, trustworthy and loved.
Researchers will continue studying oxytocin and its complex nature. These studies provide great results, and we would love to read more about the impact of this incredible hormone.
Science has the perfect answers to all the questions you may have. Touch is important for your baby’s development and parents know it best. a simple hug will make your baby or teenager feel better.
Hugs make us feel special, and it’s the best gift for the people you love.