The Importance of Touch | Emma's Diary India

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The importance of touch

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Understanding your baby's development through touch

The most natural gesture in the world is when a mother reaches out to touch her new born baby

Skin to skin contact immediately after birth is an important part of the bonding process and, if possible, doctors and nurses will always deliver the baby straight onto the mother’s stomach.

This is not only positive emotionally, it can reduce crying, keep the baby warm and can help women to breastfeed successfully.

Human contact

Babies find touch soothing; an upset baby can be comforted by a gentle cuddle or rhythmic rocking in a parent’s arms.

It may often help to wrap her up securely in a blanket, although it's very important not to allow your baby to become overheated.

Alternatively, many parents find carrying their baby around in a sling an excellent way to reassure them. Baby massage can be another wonderful way to connect as well as calm down your little one and can be incorporated into the bedtime routine as a way of gently preparing her for sleep.

While babies and small children are used to being carried and therefore having a lot of physical contact, it is important to make time for special forms of touching, such as cuddles and kisses.

If your child is being good, remember to pat her or hug her. In the case of a tantrum, it is often best to wait until it has passed before attempting to calm her down with touch, either by gently patting her or simply holding her hand.

Comforters

Many babies become attached to a certain blanket or toy, finding comfort from its touch and feel. Such can be the strength of connection with a comforter that if later on she inadvertently comes across the same texture and is feeling tired, she might go to clutch it and show signs of needing sleep.

It can be a problem separating your baby from her cloth comforter in order to wash it regularly, so try to have two on the go so one can be on duty while the other gets a good wash.

Textures

Your baby will naturally want to explore different textures so invest in toys that have soft and hard components in them.

Try pointing out opposites such as rough and smooth, angular (plastic bricks) and round (ball).

If out in the park, let your little one touch what is around her. A tree bark’s rough texture, for example, will be fascinating to her as will the autumn leaves (make sure the patch she plays in hasn’t any doggy nasties lurking within).

The brain is like a sponge in these early years so try and make sure your baby hears, touches, tastes and smells as many different textures as possible.

Pleasure and pain

We have lots of sensitive nerve endings in our skin that help us receive different information, for example, whether something is hot or cold.

Pain is an important signal of danger for the brain and, as parents, we must be on the lookout for its signs.

Crying can be an indication that your baby has some form of discomfort. Always check for uncomfortable bumps in the cot, a sore bottom or tightly constricting garments that your baby could find distressing.

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