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Use Nurturing Touch

Touch in the context of parenting appears to be a sparsely researched topic, which is interesting considering how critical nurturing touch is for a child’s growth and development.

Nearly every study noted the lack of research, and two studies are simply observational in nature to identify normative parenting touch and trends over time. Viewing some of these studies together and even in relationship to research related to other Principles provides links to potentially interesting relationships. Mother-infant skin-to-skin contact (SSC) in the first week postpartum reduces mothers' self-reported depressive symptoms and physiological stress. In another study, we see that oxytocin increases in highly affectionate contact and breastfeeding, and though not presented here, breastfeeding is also related to attachment quality, oxytocin, and touch.

Many other questions arise as we consider the exciting possibilities for touch, and we hope that more research might restore and re-establish the importance of this simple yet overlooked aspect of parenting.

The Development of Maternal Touch Across the First Year of Life

While maternal touch predicts mother-infant reciprocity, which is linked to positive child cognitive, language, and social-emotional development, the incidence of all forms of nurturing touch decrease through the infant’s first year, especially after six months.