my cuddling theory validated!

why do some babies... love to be cuddled?

It's not just babies who like cuddling, it's grown-ups too! There's nothing quite like sitting in a rocking chair holding a baby, enjoying her soft skin and sweet smell. Cuddling is essential for bonding and for insuring that a baby thrives. So why does everybody love a hug-fest?

When a baby is held close, she feels protected, safe, and loved. When you cuddle her, she can feel and hear your heart beat — a sound that is both familiar and comforting. As smell is one of the most developed senses in very small babies, she also benefits from being able to smell you as you cuddle. As babies get older and become more mobile, they may often come back for a quick cuddle — as a way to reassure themselves that they haven't gone too far away.

The importance of cuddling shouldn't be underestimated. Although psychologists once believed that babies sought out their mothers only because they provided them with nutrition, a series of experiments on rhesus monkeys in the 1960s showed that primates need comfort more than they need food. Baby monkeys were put in a cage with two different wire "mothers": one was made of wood and wire only and provided milk, and one was covered with terry cloth but provided no milk. Contrary to expectation, the terrified baby monkeys spent most of their time clinging to the cloth "mother," suggesting that the nurturing aspect of mothering is more important to development than providing sustenance.

Cuddling, it turns out, actually stimulates growth hormones and reduces stress hormones. Physical contact enhances the immune system, helps babies grow healthy and strong, and gives them a sense of emotional well-being. Many studies have shown that babies who are cuddled are better adapted socially and intellectually than their counterparts who are deprived of affection. So stop reading right now and go hug a baby!

Adapted with permission from "Why Babies Do That: Baffling Baby Behavior Explained," by Jennifer Margulis, published by Willow Creek Press. 2005 by Jennifer Margulis. All rights reserved.

Comments

  1. didn't i tell you that about a year ago i went to a "cuddle party"? they started out in new york (go figure) and branched out to LA. basically a group therapist comes in and you have like 20 strangers who all cuddle together! of course it's very respectful and you have to ask permission with each person, but it was CRAZY! i actually did realize how much more we need cuddling in our culture and i really like the cuddling. but i realized it's more fun with loved ones...with strangers it's just creepy.

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