Skin to Skin: Ages and Stages

Skin to Skin: Ages and Stages

June 23, 2013 10:05 am 12,830 comments

hFrom baby to toddler and then a big kid, at some point your little one will be too big for babywearing or snoozing with Mom. There are still plenty of ways to have skin to skin contact with your bigger kid and maintain and strengthen the amazing bond you share.

In this article.:

  • Skin to Skin Time for Preemies and Babies
  • Touch Time With Infants and Toddlers
  • Older Kids and Increasing Physical Connections

Skin to Skin time for Preemies and Babies

Preemies and very young babies benefit immensely from skin to skin contact. The first hour after birth is often referred to as the “magical hour” for all of the amazing developments that take place when baby is placed on mom’s chest. Even if you had a Cesarean section or your baby was born prematurely, it’s still important to have as much skin to skin contact with your little one as possible. Simply holding your baby torso to torso can help regulate his breathing, body temperature, pulse and can help you both to relax. Numerous studies have shown that preemies especially can gain from this bonding time with mom. Skin to skin time with your baby has also been shown to correlate with higher rates of success with breastfeeding. This close contact after birth also gives your baby a chance to be colonized by the same bacteria as Mom and this combined with breastfeeding are thought to help prevent allergic reactions in your baby as he gets older. Sometimes premature babies who are put into incubators are populated with microbes in their skin and gut different from that of their mother’s. Using unscented, naturally derived skin care products [Cheeky Salve]on yourself and your baby during these first few days will help baby to recognize your unique scent when you two are cuddling close together.

Touch Time With Infants and Toddlers

As your baby grows into an infant and then a toddler, their independence is increasing. This means less time spent in your arms and more time exploring the world around them.  There’s still plenty of opportunity for you and your baby to enjoy close contact beyond regular hugs and kisses. Babywearing instead of using a stroller, enjoying bath time together and cuddling up to read stories before bedtime are all easy ways to continue having skin to skin time together. This is also a great time to start teaching personal care habits like proper hand washing. Baby’s growing independence also means more exposure to the elements and germs. Try to keep his skin hydrated and protected with products like Babytime! by Episencial moisturizers, bug repellents and sunscreens.

Older Kids and Increasing Physical Connections

Although your child is most likely too big to carry around or even fit in the bathtub with you, you can still benefit from skin to skin contact in other ways. Holding hands, back tickles during a bedtime tuck-in, high-fives or fist-bumps, even a game of thumb-wrestling is great way to maintain a high level of physical contact with your child. While this isn’t the classic version of skin-to-skin, more casual touch still comes with a long list of physiological benefits.

Bath-time becomes a “teachable moment” for kids to learn how to take care of some of their own grooming but still allowing you to have close contact as you help them wash up. Try spending a few minutes snuggling together in a big fluffy towel before pajama time. This is also a terrific opportunity to create a personal care routine for your child that includes care for the environment – limiting the use of resources like water, paper and energy and using products that reduce exposure to chemicals.

Sources

Lozoff B, Brittenham GM, Trause MA, Kennell JH, Klaus MH. The mother-newborn relationship: limits of adaptability. J Pediatr 1977 July;91(1):1-12.

Schore AN. Effects of a secure attachment relationship on right brain development, affect regulation, and infant mental health. Infant Mental Health Journal 2001;22(1-2):7-66.

Mori R, Khanna R, Pledge D, Nakayama T.  Meta-analysis of physiological effects of skin-to-skin contact for newborns and mothers. Pediatrics International 2010; 52(2): 161-170

BJOG. 2008 July; 115(8): 1037–1042. The natural caesarean: a woman-centred technique J Smith,a F Plaat,b and NM Fiska,

The Connected Child by Karyn B. Purvis, Ph.D., David R. Cross, Ph.D., and Wendy Lyons Sunshine

 

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