Study Reveals Kids Who Get More Hugs Have More Developed Brains

Study Reveals Kids Who Get More Hugs Have More Developed Brains

By 7 months, babies have the ability to differentiate between an actual physical touch and the picture of someone's hand touching another person.

Representative Image Source: Getty/ Charles Gullung

If you're the kind of parent who absolutely loves hugging their children all the time, just continue doing what you're doing. Turns out, that the simple act of hugging one's child helps their brains develop more. Research reveals that physical affection during a baby's development period is very crucial. This information comes following a recent survey from the Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Ohio where 125 babies, including both full-term and premature, became the subject of a study. It was aimed at understanding how well kids responded to physical touch and the results were sure exciting. 


As babies, we first begin perceiving the world around us by touching and feeling. Thus, it should not be a surprise that being in the warm embrace of a person helps in the development of a baby's brain. Explaining the aim of the study, Nathalie Maitre of Nationwide Children's Hospital and Vanderbilt University Medical Center said, "Making sure that preterm babies receive positive, supportive touch such as skin-to-skin care by parents is essential to help their brains respond to gentle touch in ways similar to those of babies who experienced an entire pregnancy inside their mother's womb." 


Representative Image Source: Getty/ Halfpoint Images


"When parents cannot do this, hospitals may want to consider occupational and physical therapists to provide a carefully planned touch experience, sometimes missing from a hospital setting," she continued. In the due course of the research, Maitre and her team used a "soft EEG net to measure the babies' brain responses to a puff of air compared to a 'fake' puff," before the infants were being discharged from the hospital. They found that preterm babies did not respond that well to a gentle touch as much as full-term babies did. Following analysis, it was revealed that the brain response to touch was "stronger when babies in the NICU spent more time in gentle contact with their parents or healthcare providers."



"We certainly hoped to see that more positive touch experiences in the hospital would help babies have a more typical perception of touch when they went home," she added. Maitre and her colleagues are currently designing new ways to provide positive touch in the NICU based on their findings. They are also investigating how their brain responds to touch interactions and the sound of a person's voice.


Representative Image Source: Getty/ Jose Luis Pelaez


Babies have the ability to differentiate between an actual physical touch and the picture of someone's hand touching another person. According to a study at the University of Washington, by the time a child is seven months old, they understand the concept of "self" and also know the fact that their body is different from another person. Thus, your loving touch has a greater impact on your child's life than you think.

Benefits Of A Massage

If you're wondering about a way to create a bonding experience between you and your child, then consider giving your baby massages.


Representative Image Source: Getty/ Stella


In an article from Stanford’s Medicine, a certified infant massage instructor at Packard’s Children Hospital Maureen McCaffrey revealed the benefits of massaging an infant. Apparently, it improves your baby's sleep pattern, neurological functions, digestion, and bowel movements. Babies become more comfortable and as a result, are less fussy. They start gaining weight at a healthy rate and become more aware due to the security, love, and acceptance your touch imparts. The best part is that both the mother and child become significantly more relaxed. 


Representative Image Source:  Getty/Charles Gullung


A hormone and neurotransmitter oxytocin, which is produced in one's hypothalamus, encourages bonding between a mother and her child. The level of the hormone, which is released from our pituitary gland, increases during hugs, breastfeeding, and orgasm, according to Power of Positivity. It helps foster closeness, trust, and material instinct or care, with the increased level of oxytocin while breastfeeding in women. 

Recommended for you