The cutest new study shows that cuddling preemie babies when they're still in the hospital and beyond helps them thrive throughout the rest of their lives. The research, which was conducted by Ruth Feldman, a professor of psychology and neuroscience at Bar-Ilan university in Tel Aviv, compared premature babies later on in life who were cuddled in the NICU with those who weren't, and the results were astounding. The cuddled babies were thriving, developmentally and emotionally, much more than the poor babes who were not.
But, as you may surmise, it isn't just preemies who need cuddling. All babies (and humans!) need cuddling. Check out some of the scientifically proven health benefits to cuddling your baby:
1. Cuddled babies tend to sleep better. According to this study, the babies who were cuddled have more organized and predictable sleep patterns than those who were not.
2. Cuddled babies have steadier respiration and heart rates. The study also found that the babies who received "kangaroo care," AKA who were cuddled often, had better respiratory function.
3. Cuddled babies manage stress better. Ten-year-olds who were cuddled often as preemies were found to handle stress better than their less-cuddled counterparts. The study determined this via levels of cortisol (a stress-related hormone) found in their saliva when they were faced with an anxiety-producing situation, such as delivering a presentation at school.
4. Cuddled babies reap social benefits. In another study, it was proven that there's a clear link to babies who were cuddled in the very early years and their emotional responses later on in life. Children who are touched and cuddled have higher levels of social-bonding hormones.
So, not that you needed a reason to cuddle your baby, but ... go cuddle your baby! Both he and you desperately need it. Another benefit of cuddling? It releases oxytocin, AKA the "feel good hormone," in babies and adults alike. Aw.