Newborns are sensitive to touch. Babies prefer soft textures to scratchy ones and gentle handling over abrupt movements. Throughout the last months of pregnancy, a baby is snugly cocooned in the uterus, with arms and legs tucked. At birth, babies are suddenly thrust into a bright, cold world, where their arms and legs can suddenly move freely. This new freedom can make babies frantic and they may cry and flail. Placing a gentle hand on the baby's stomach, or cuddling close can help a baby feel more secure. Gentle stroking, slow rocking, holding closely in the warmth of a mother’s arms will often relax and calm a baby. Swaddling (wrapping snugly in a blanket) is another way for babies to feel tucked and secure.
Studies show that holding a baby will help him or her to thrive. Holding a baby for feedings is important for growth and development. Breastfeeding, in particular, ensures that a baby spends several hours in mother's arms.
Key Points about Touch in the First Month
- Prefer soft, gentle touch
- Like to be held