New Study: The More you Hug your Kids, the More Their Brains Develop


Love works in mysterious ways. We are born to love, and apparently love and affection are necessary for both optimal positive emotional and physical development. And to be honest, nothing can beat the feeling of warm embrace. According to new research, physical affection during a child’s developmental period is even more important than we thought.

When babies are born, all of their brain cells, called neurons, are fine. But there are very few connections between these cells. When these connections are formed between neurons, new learning occurs. As children acquire new information through their senses and experiences, these connections occur. When a baby is properly stimulated, these connections occur at a rate of a million per second. On the other hand, these connections do not occur when a child does not receive adequate stimulation and is not exposed to experiences during their first years of life. The ability to make those connections will be lost forever.

Why Hugs Early and Often are essential?

Age zero to three is the critical time for these connections. This is the time when neural pathways or connections between cells, also called synapses, occur. After this critical period, the brain is no longer as plastic or “changeable” and connections do not occur at such a rapid rate. It becomes more difficult to make those connections and enable new learning at such a rapid pace. Hugs, cuddles, and connecting with babies and toddlers help form these connections for several reasons. Humans are predisposed to thrive in human interactions. Babies crave interactions to allow these connections to happen.

The more you hug a baby, the more its brain grows, according to a recent survey from the Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Ohio.

125 babies, both premature and full term, were included in the study, which looked at how well they responded to physical contact. The results indicated that premature babies reacted less to the condition than babies who were not born prematurely. However, it was also revealed that children who received more affection from parents or hospital staff had a stronger brain response.

According to researcher Dr. Nathalie Maitre, this latest revelation tells us that something as simple as body contact or holding the baby in your arms will make a big difference in the development of his brain. “Ensuring premature babies receive positive and supportive touch and skin care from parents is essential to help their brains respond to the soft touch in the same way as babies who have gone through a full pregnancy in the womb”- Maitre for Science Daily.

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