The sense of touch is present at 8 weeks in utero – well before baby’s eyes or ears have developed. Touch is the one of first ways that baby can interact with Mom and Dad, as baby’s vision is still fuzzy. Skin to skin contact in the first few days of life helps promote baby’s healthy development. Sometimes known as “Kangaroo care”, this contact with a newborn can help baby to:
- regulate her body temperature
- lower levels of cortisol (stress hormone)
- breastfeed easier
- sleep better
- develop trust
- feel attached to and bond with her new family
In fact, babies who are touched gently on a regular basis gain weight, grow, and thrive. Healthy contact with your baby might include cuddling, gentle massage, stroking and just holding your newborn. Each time you pick up your baby, you let her know that you care and understand her needs. Hold and soothe a crying baby. Carry her on your back, hip or shoulder. Sing her a lullabye. Stroke her head. Tenderly rub her back and let her know you will always be there.
Did you know? Newborns denied physical contact with other humans can actually die from this lack of contact, even if they are provided with adequate nutrition and shelter.