Can’t get enough of your little one? Go for it, Mommy! Here are some significant ways that your baby benefits from hugs and kisses.
What can you read in this article?
- The importance of hugging and kissing your child
- Can hugs and kisses make your child spoiled?
- Some reminders when you kiss or hug your baby
Let’s be honest, moms and dads. You don’t need us to tell you how incredibly common it is for parents to show their babies a lot of affection. It’s a natural compulsion for a mom or dad to give their little bundle of joy some TLC in the form of a kiss, cuddle, or hug. Who can ever resist smelling those tiny toes, or cuddling with your little one as she stares at you with pure innocence and joy?
The reasons for wanting to show your child your love and affection are obvious, but what if I told you there’s a really good reason to hug and kiss your baby?
Kissing and hugging provide a lot of benefits to many people, but it is particularly important in child development. Why? Here are some ways that a cuddle and a peck on the cheek can have a positive effect on your baby.
Significant ways your baby benefits from your hugs and kisses
1. Kissing your baby can help strengthen their immune system
By kissing a baby, namely newborns, in this case, you take in a number of harmful pathogens that have been resting on your baby’s skin. When you absorb these pathogens via a kiss, they make their way down to the lymphoid organs (e.g. tonsils).
These pathogens can actually be revitalized and stimulated after reaching the lymphoid organs and making contact with memory B cells. Thankfully, the memory B cells produce antibodies that work to combat harmful pathogens. This is incredibly beneficial for nursing mothers because as their babies breastfeed, they’re exposed to the antibodies that can help to build their immune system against a wide range of sicknesses.
Think of it like this: when you kiss your baby, your body takes in potential sickness(es) and then develops an antidote for that sickness. When you breastfeed, you’re giving your baby that antidote.
Kissing your baby makes moms a walking talking immunity booster!
2. Hugging your baby can help him thrive
One important reason to hug your baby – it helps him grow.
According to the website Parenting for Brain, physicians have found that when children are deprived of physical contact, their bodies stop growing or their growth becomes slower despite the normal intake of nutrients.
This condition is known as failure-to-thrive, a type of growth deficiency. To help children thrive and grow faster, experts recommend giving more nurturing touches or hugs to a child. How is hugging connected to physical growth? It is because affectionate touches trigger the release of oxytocin, also known as the love or happy hormone.
Studies revealed that hugging can instantly boost the level of oxytocin, and when this feel-good hormone is released, several growth hormones, such as insulin-like growth factor-I (IGF-1) and nerve growth factor (NGF), are increased as well.
3. Affection can raise your baby’s IQ and overall intelligence
There have always been suggestions that overly nurturing your child can result in dependency problems, behaviorial, and emotional problems. This is actually a huge misconception and research by Harry F. Harlow in the 1950s and, more recently, Kim Bard (University of Portsmouth in England) has worked to shoot this claim down.
These noteworthy studies used chimps to monitor the effects of attachment parenting and physical affection. In summation, both studies found that motherly love helped develop more intellectual and adept chimps.
In another study conducted by the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, brain images were taken and revealed that love and affection from a parent can have positive influences on brain development. In fact, the study found that the hippocampus (the learning and memory center of the brain) was 10% larger in children who were nurtured and shown love as a baby.
If you’re looking for more reasons to smooch your infant, in her book Why Love Matters, Sue Gerhardt suggests the following benefits of hugs and kisses:
- Loving your baby and showing it through touches or by responding to the baby’s signals help its brain mature without letting it get stressed out.
- Your little human feels secure, and it enables the brain to develop in various aspects.
- Your baby develops a robust stress response.
- You help your baby to hold more information in the prefrontal cortex, learn restraint over impulses, and help to adjust in social relationships.
- Kissing helps your little one get exposed to positive experiences of love.
- Loving and kissing can help it build more neuronal connections in the brain thereby making your baby smart.
4. Hugging can make your child calmer and lessen tantrums
While the previous entries emphasize the physical benefits of nurturing, you can’t underestimate the emotional benefits.
Do you ever wonder why our babies calm down when we carry them or snuggle up close with them? It’s because hugging instantly releases oxytocin to help your baby relax.
Some people think that babies and children can become spoiled if you hug them too often. But there’s no truth to this. Hugging a child is not synonymous with “giving in” or letting a child have his way. Besides, you can’t really spoil a baby. They don’t have the emotional maturity to manipulate people yet.
When a child is stressed or overwhelmed, it can be difficult to control our emotion, which leads to crying bouts in babies, and tantrums or meltdowns in toddlers. Hugging helps your child to self-regulate or control her emotions by releasing the all-powerful oxytocin, which reduces stress and relieves anxiety.
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5. Hugging helps child and parents bond
This is probably the most obvious reason on this list. Hugs are essential the way skin-to-skin contact is to newborns. It also works the same way – by releasing oxytocin that sparks intense feelings of love and protectiveness.
Meanwhile, the brain also produces more dopamine, the pleasure hormone that signals a reward. This particular hormone gives your children a “high” when they recognize your smell, making them want to hug you more. So seal that mommy and baby bonding time with a big hug!
When do babies start to show affection? At around 6 to 12 months, you’ll notice that your child is starting to reciprocate your hugs and kisses my reaching out their arms or planting a big, wet kiss on your cheek.
6. Physical affection teaches babies empathy
Expressing your love for your baby doesn’t just build a unique relationship between baby and parent, it also helps to cultivate a unique personality and demeanor.
Babies who are nurtured understand the importance of sensitivity and other people’s needs and feelings. This can lead to them being able to relate and interact better with their peers. Obviously, these are all great qualities if your child wants to form meaningful relationships with friends and family as they grow older.
Again, you probably don’t need us to remind you to hug and kiss your baby more often. However, these surprisingly significant benefits are incentive to give your baby a few extra smooches before bedtime.
But as irresistible as they can be, always remember to take safety precautions when showing affection to your little one. For starters, avoid giving your newborn a kiss on the mouth as it can potentially cause contagious disease that can be transferred through saliva.
Also, resist the urge to give your baby a big hug when you just came home from work or an errand outside. Sanitize your hands and shower first, then you’re free to cuddle with the little guy.
Finally, exercise precaution and remind excited visitors and relatives to wash their hands first before they carry your baby. They surely won’t be offended if you explain that you’re just putting your child’s safety first. When your baby is a bit older, you can teach him about body autonomy and consent, so he can say if he wants a hug or a kiss from relatives or not.
But other than those reminders, feel free to shower your baby with hugs and kisses! It will not spoil him, and he will be a healthier (physically and emotionally) individual because of it. Time for some mommy and baby bonding time!