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Baby Science - What happens when you touch your baby?

10 Sep 2019

Baby Science – What happens when you touch your baby?

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Cuddles, skin to skin, massage..all amazing ways to help communicate love to your baby, enhancing bonding and also support your baby’s development.

So why is touch so important to your baby?

There are many sensory abilities embedded in touch;

  1. The sense of touch on the skin so a baby knows he/she is connecting with something like your arms.
  2. The somatosensory system which oversees sensations such as pain, temperature, and pressure.
  3. The proprioception system which gives your baby a sense of the position and movement in their body.

Every touch that your baby receives starts a cascade of nervous system responses in the body helping him/her to build up a 3D picture of the world and his/her place in it. Touch is where everything begins.

Not all parts of your baby’s body are equally sensitive to touch either. The sensation of touch is perceived in the primary somatosensory cortex of the brain and the sensitivity runs in this order;

Tongue, Mouth, Lips, Face, Hand, Arm, Trunk, Leg

Knowing this is very useful to understand how your baby responses to touch and is very interesting as a baby massage teacher as you can often see this playing out in classes.

Babies tend to be quite sensitive to facial massage and also massage around the mouth activates the rooting reflex. Many babies find massage on the face a bit overwhelming and this is due to this more developed sensitivity.

Babies often enjoy leg massage as its an area that babies are used to being touched with nappy changing and it’s also less sensitive.

The type of touch a baby receives is also important. Babies prefer an even pressure rather than a light touch as this can feel overstimulating. The type of pressure we use in baby massage is the same as stroking a cat or a dog. Firm and even strokes send a more calming and soothing message to the brain.

So when you touch and massage your baby, its more than just relaxing. It is helping your baby understand their body, their environment and is the foundation of development.

Much love

Gayle

PS

Does this resonate with you?

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