It may sound a little touchy-feely, but physical contact is an important part of feeling good and connecting with others. Consider how it feels to hug your little one. Skin-to-skin (STS) contact, along with the right skin care routine, can help promote feelings of well-being and relaxation.
Skin to Skin Does a Body Good
Your baby’s introduction to the world around her is through skin-to-skin contact (STS)—being held, fed, rocked, and soothed. For preemies (once they’re developed enough to respond well to it), skin-to-skin contact promotes their survival and ability to thrive.
These types of close encounters have many positive benefits including better bonding, higher rates of success with breastfeeding, calmer babies who sleep better, and reduced incidences of postpartum depression in new mothers.
In the beginning, the biggest cause of stress for a baby is separation from her safe place—mom.
This stress is shown by increased heart rate and blood pressure and decreased oxygen saturation in the blood. Early skin-to-skin care sets the tone for healthy development and secure attachment between mom and baby, heightens mom’s instinctive protectiveness, and lessens baby’s stress. Using unscented, naturally-derived skin care products like BEB Organic Silky Cream on yourself and your baby during these first few days will help her recognize your unique scent when you two are cuddling close together.
Rinse and Repeat
Children who haven’t had enough physical and emotional attention are at higher risk for behavioral, emotional, and social problems as they grow up. Even if you didn’t have immediate early skin-to-skin time with your baby in the hospital, there are still ample benefits to having lots of skin-to-skin time with your child of any age. Your preemie may still be on a different path than his peers, and STS time can continue to strengthen him.
In fact, as children age, they will often crave physical contact with you in many types of situations—kisses and hugs after a boo-boo; a shyer child staying close to mom in a new situation; playing a tickle game or cuddling up to read a story together.
In the case of preemies, if they don't have positive physical touch, there can actually be a shift in brain development. Making sure that positive physical touch is present to offset the unpleasantness of other stressors in a NICU is critical for ensuring your preemie's healthy brain development.
There’s almost never a bad time to show some affection with your child and help her feel secure and loved. Communicate closely with your nurses if you're in the NICU to find out when and where are the best times to participate with proactive physical touch. We like to call this "mindful touch".
As your baby ages, keep up that practice of mindful touch. One great way to combine increasing independence with skin-to-skin time is teaching your toddler how to do grooming rituals like washing her hands, hair, or brushing her teeth. All of these activities take some time to learn, require a helping hand from you, and can prove to be very special bonding times.
The Time is Always Right For Hugging
There’s no denying the evidence that skin-to-skin contact is important for the physical, emotional, and developmental health of your baby. Children at any age, including adults, enjoy and benefit from plenty of physical connection with others, especially those closest to them.
Using skin care products that support and encourage these bonding moments can enhance their benefits. Opt for ingredients that contain essential fatty acids and probiotics that promote the health of skin and body, like in our BEB Organic products.
From bath time to massage time, we’ve got your skincare needs covered in the healthiest of ways. The BEB Organic We’ve Got This Set gives you products to help keep skin healthy and growing well.
- Infant Behav Dev. 2008 September; 31(3): 361–373. Vagal Activity, Early Growth and Emotional Development.
- Tiffany Fieldand Miguel Diego. Care Practice #6: No Separation of Mother and Baby, With Unlimited Opportunities for Breastfeeding. J Perinat Educ. 2007 Summer; 16(3): 39–43.
- Jeannette Crenshaw, RN, MSN, IBCLC, LCCE, FACCE
- Anderson G. C, Moore E, Hepworth J, Bergman N. Early skin-to-skin contact for mothers and their healthy newborn infants. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. 2003;(Issue 2)
- Bergman N. J, Linley L. L, Fawcus S. R. Randomized controlled trial of skin-to-skin contact from birth versus conventional incubator for physiological stabilization in 1,200 to 2,199 gram newborns. Acta Paediatrica. 2004;93:779–785.
- Bystrova K, Widstrom A. M, Matthiesen A. S, Ransjo-Arvidson A. B, Welles-Nystrom B, Wassberg C. Skin-to-skin contact may reduce negative consequences of “the stress of being born”: A study on temperature in newborn infants subjected to different ward routines in St. Petersburg. Acta Paediatrica. 2003;92(3):320–326.