Are you more likely to lapse into sweet, cozy sleep resting under a warm blanket or a sheet of galvanized tin? Is it a big surprise that our sense of touch directly communicates with our body-mind of emotions and thoughts? Here in the west our allopathic medical system’s understanding of the relationship between thoughts, feelings, and experience has been limited at best, but it looks like we’re broadening our horizons.

Medical fields like psychoneuroimmunology (PNI) have recognized for a number of decades now that humans are an awesome bio-dynamic web of interacting neurons, emotions, sensations, feelings, thoughts, disease, and health. Michel Odent’s “Primal Health” perspective similarly recognizes that the nervous, immune, and endocrine systems of the body are not separate, distinct entities but rather a beautiful symphonic concert of neurochemicals, emotions, and experiences.

Science is now confirming what instinctive mothers have been doing for tens of thousands of years. Babies, like adult humans,  have a biological, emotional, and social need to receive our loving touch. By recognizing and responding to babies’ biological needs, we are honoring their complete emotional and physical dependence upon us a mothers and parents. We are not “creating dependence” as many outdated obedience/punitive oriented parenting dynamics would have espoused decades ago. We are opening our eyes to the fact that our babies are born dependent and that their basic biological needs are all bundled up with their emotional and social needs. Love on your babies mamas. Hold them. Snuggle them. Wear them. Stroke them. Kiss them. Squeeze them.

“Published June 24 in Science, the study is the latest addition to a booming field of embodied cognition, which over the last decade has scientifically eroded the notion that mind and body are distinctly separate.

The way people understand the world is through physical experiences. The first sense they develop is touch,” said study co-author Josh Ackerman, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology psychologist. As they grow up, those physical experiences shape how people conceptualize abstract, social experience, he said.

The tactile sensation is extremely important early in development. The idea that other associations would be built on that makes intuitive sense,” said Franklin & Marshall College psychologist Michael Anderson, who was not involved in the study. “Brain regions that may initially have been dedicated to one particular task, turn out to contribute to multiple tasks……” Sense of Touch Shapes Snap Judgments |






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  1. July 18, 2010

    nice post. thanks.

  2. July 19, 2010

    There’s a great book called The Vital Touch by Sharon Heller, PhD. It’s all about how incredibly important touch is to babies, and what happens to the brain when it’s deprived. It’s beautifully written, but chock full of citations for the science-minded.

    Reading the book reinforced my high-touch attachment parenting style (in spite of naysayers who question my “still” breastfeeding, cosleeping and babywearing my 18mo old), but made me deeply sad for the vast majority of babies in this country who are deprived of touch. Carted around in bucket car seats and strollers, sleeping alone in cribs, left to sit in bouncers and swings. All day long, that detachment and lack of physical contact with a loving human caregiver adds up to neglect.

    I cannot recommend this book enough!

  3. July 21, 2010

    Thank you! I will look for it!

    My first baby was born in July, was naked most of the time, and was always in-arms or worn, but looking back on those first months I wish I had taken advantage of every single second of possible skin-to-skin time.

    Ashley Montagu’s “Touching… The Significance of Human Skin” is also a good one on the subject.

  4. July 23, 2010

    Thank you, this is such a great post. It is sad for me to see babies carted around everywhere in car seats and if they cry, mom rocks the car seat instead of picking them up!!! I just want to go and say, “hold them!”

    • July 23, 2010

      As women, and mothers, we are so far removed from our instincts in this culture. I often think about primate mamas, a multitude of mamas in the animal kingdom for that matter, who have that direct, mainline connection to their mothering instincts. It flows through their veins — literally — it is what keeps their species alive. I hope as women we can get back to that place. Our babies need us to. Our spirit needs us to!

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