Research shows how baby care choices shape your baby’s future.
How Will You Choose for Me?
Perhaps you remember the (linked) post “Intentional Baby Care” that talked about human touch, love, and attention, and the positive, long-term effects of these baby care choices. Here are some other choices you may want to make for your newborn as you think about the person you want your baby to become. In 2013 we have technological advances that make information readily available at the touch of your finger, and we have an abundance of research that only time can make possible. Here is a small sample of what we now know.
Ben E. Benjamin, PhD begins by talking about unwanted babies of a hundred years ago in orphanages who died, not from lack of food or lack of clean surroundings, but from lack of touch. When given touch in an outside environment, the babies from these institutions thrived. He goes on to mention that today’s cuddlers (volunteers who hold babies in the hospital) not only help those babies improve physiologically so that they grow and heal faster, but the cuddlers themselves experience “lower anxiety levels, fewer symptoms of depression, and improved self-esteem.” He asks the important question worth exploring: “And what is the connection between physical human contact and virtually every aspect of health and well being?” And after some discussion he makes this observation about newborn babies: “But it does make sense that during this most vulnerable time of our lives we would form patterns and expectations about how the world works, specifically, about how safe and valued we are in the world, through our skin.” Human touch is a powerful force, easy to give to your newborn, that will help shape the person your baby will become.
“Crying Babies: Answering the Call of Infant Cries”
Melodi Faris cites in her article the research of many investigators as she gives us ample documentation to support responding immediately to the call of a baby crying. “Ideally, a caregiver would evaluate the infant’s cries, choose a method of care to ease the infant’s distress, and respond quickly. This process, if consistent, should instill security and trust in the infant.” Security and trust provide the foundation for development of the long-term benefits of “a more balanced self-concept, better language skills, better problem-solving skills, greater conscience development, and more mature and positive interactions,” skills that may influence greater success in life. Many more research findings are presented that will help you explore this choice for your own baby care.
We learn from the “Brain Development” section of the Multnomah County Library that your baby’s brain development is influenced by “simple acts – singing silly songs, talking about colors and textures…., holding and reading….daily” that cause connections in the brain to form. The article goes on to say that “Babies and young children learn best through warm, responsive caregiving. Clear evidence has emerged that suggests that activity, experience, attachment, and stimulation determine the structure of the brain.” This research documents that “warm, responsive caregiving is essential to healthy brain development.”
Champ Land’s article cites many sources of research demonstrating the positive benefits of rocking, not just for babies, but for people of all ages. Rocking is proven to be good for the mind, body, and spirit. Studies in the elderly population have demonstrated that rocking benefits include a decreased need for medication, improved balance, and more happiness for patients and their families. They also noted in these studies that it’s possible to “rock away anxiety and depression.” Other studies found that post-operative and C-section patients recover more quickly with rocking. Perhaps if you have a Cesarean delivery you would also like to know that “rocking mothers had less gas pain, walked faster, and left the hospital one day sooner than non-rocking mothers.”
It’s commonly known that “rocking soothes fussy babies and relaxes mothers.” But did you also know that rocking “stimulates the balance mechanism of the inner ear. It assists an infant’s biological development and ability to be alert and attentive.” Rocking is also proven to enhance the bonding process for mother and baby. And, it has been discovered that, beginning the 10th week of pregnancy, “rocking promotes the development of the fetal nervous system.” It seems that no matter the age or condition, rocking is truly a simple, relaxing, and fun way to enhance the human body.
Your Baby’s Future
Perhaps you have learned, or been reminded of, some things that may influence your baby care choices. You do have the power, as a parent to this little person who came to live with you, to influence your newborn’s overall healthy development as you make choices that will shape your baby’s future.