Why is touch so important to an infant? Soft touch is important because it stimulates oxytocin in both you and your baby. Oxytocin is known as the ‘love hormone’ because it encourages feelings of love and bonding and reduces stress and anxiety. Positive touch also reassures baby that you are there and will be responsive to their needs. And it encourages them to feel that the world is a safe space and that their needs will be met, which builds their confidence and allows their brain to develop optimally.
What are the benefits of babywearing? There are so many! Aside from the benefits of oxytocin release and more opportunities for positive touch, carrying your baby in a sling allows your hands to be free so that you can care for others; other children, parents, partners and even get some work or housework done if you are juggling everything at once. It allows your baby to absorb everything you’re doing and saying which aids their development too. Babywearing can help with reflux relief as you carry them upright and the gentle motion of you moving around can also help them to settle.
How do you think our current situation (lockdown and social distancing) might impact on our babies? I think more parents are using slings to help them with their daily lives and while babies are young they thrive from this close contact with their primary caregivers. All of the extra interactions from their primary caregivers will help them to build confidence as they grow and they will likely be positively affected as they develop. However, lock-down has also meant that babies can’t be socialised as they normally would with other people. Unfortunately, post natal depression seems to be on the rise as parents struggle to adjust without their normal support network and other anxieties which have come to the surface through such an unsettling time. This is another reason why the benefits of babywearing are so important.
Any advice for parents wanting to lessen the impact that social distancing might have on their young children? We have found that our kids, who are a little older now, are really missing their friends. We go out for walks with another family who live locally and they can safely play in the woods together. They don’t need to have a huge variety of people to play with, just having these regular interactions in person or digitally seems to be enough for them to feel connected.
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