touch for newborns

How Is Cuddling and Soothing Touch Important For Newborns?

January 31, 2017

You’re not the only one who craves a soothing body rub every now and then. Babies also find a gentle laying on of hands very relaxing — even therapeutic. Massage is the act of soothing touch in order to promote both relief and healing. Cuddling is one and the same, and the benefits of touch have prompted a new kind of program at the Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital in Stanford, California, which was given the most apropos (and cutest) name ever: the “Cuddle Program.”


In a recently published article entitled, “Newborns Benefit From Hospital Cuddle Program,” author and expert, Larry Schwingel, writes:


“Within the confines of the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford, a room filled with state-of-the-art medical equipment helps safeguard newborn infants. Its equipment is lifesaving, but the personal touch provided by a group of volunteers called cuddlers makes this particular NICU something very special,” adding, “Supervised by developmental and behavioral pediatrics specialist Lori Bowlby, R.N., the Baby Cuddler Program at the Stanford, California, hospital comprises mostly older adults sharing the common purpose of providing babies [much needed] comfort in the critical early stages of life.”


How Does Cuddling Provide Such Important Benefits?


It can help ease your baby’s tummy troubles and teething pains, boost his muscle development, calm him when he’s fussy, and soothe your baby to sleep.


“Experts say the ideal touch is that of a parent, so a team of developmental specialists, nurses, respiratory therapists and physicians help parents and caretakers learn proper baby-care techniques. This includes a skin-to-skin method while in the isolette, when appropriate, or massage,” Schwegel writes, adding, “Moving the skin in a massage method increases serotonin, which is the body’s natural antidepressant. Physical effects include a reduction of pain sensation, and an overall enhanced immune function, which contributes to a greater sense of wellbeing.”