Don’t you put down your little one at all? Aren’t you scared that your munchkin is going to be royally spoiled? How many times have you heard these questions? How many times has someone told you to stop mollycoddling your little one and teach him/her to self-soothe?
For me, I heard all these things at least a zillion times when my kids were newborns. And, I am not even talking about the time when they were at least a few months old; this was soon after their birth. Everyone, from relatives and doctors to strangers, has asked me these questions. All everyone wanted to know was whether I planned to spoil my little ones by always holding them.
Now that I look back, in hindsight, I realize how ridiculous some of these statements were. I have two daughters and they are five and ten years old right now. And, they have grown up so fast that I now need to beg them to sit on my lap, even if it is for a while. Of course, at that time, I didn’t know that my kids are going to grow up and become all independent. So, the criticism did get under my skin.
Here’s the thing, I didn’t hold my kids 24/7 out of choice. Of course, I loved cuddling them. But, it was more to do with the fact that they would start wailing loudly each time I would put them down. And, yes, I could have let them be and they may have also learned how to soothe themselves on their own. However, all my instincts told me to hold them in my arms when they cried, despite all the judgment and criticism.
The great news is that my instincts turned out to be absolutely right. Yes, the little ones do need to be held in the arms when they are crying. And, this is not because of how incredibly good they smell or how adorable they are. No, it is because science backs up the belief that one can literally do nothing that can spoil these munchkins. In fact, the hugging and cuddling can prove to be beneficial for the babies’ health and development.
A study published in Pediatrics shed a light on how the skin-to-skin contact affects premature babies. The research took a long route and just didn’t study its immediate effects, but it also looks at how these premature babies were affected twenty years down the line (1).
On comparing the preemie babies who experienced skin-to-skin touch with the ones who didn’t, the researchers found that the former group had a higher IQ. In fact, the gray matter was significantly larger in their brains and they were also earning comparatively more than the latter. In fact, the skin-to-skin contact also resulted in the preemies being less prone towards aggression and hyperactivity in school. And, these kids were also less likely to bunk schools.
Of course, you might think that this study revolves around preemie babies who are more vulnerable. And, are more in need of some good TLC. But, a study published in 2012, which involved full-term babies, showed that the ones who experience skin-to-skin touch early on in life exhibit higher breastfeeding rates and relatively less crying. It also helps with the cardio-respiratory stability (2).
So, it turns out that there is a treasure of data backed up by science that proves how the skin-to-skin contact is beneficial for babies. And, what all this proves is that there is simply no way that you can spoil your kids. Having heard all the criticism that I did back in the days, all this research came as a relief to me. In fact, I wish that I could travel back in time somehow and present this scientifically-backed data to everyone who criticized me.
Do you face similar issues at home too? If this has been bothering you, now you know that there is no need to worry. So, sit back and let the critiques say what they wish to do. You just revel in the truth! Cheers, mommies!