Mother’s touch lowers baby stress

Tags: Pregnancy , Stress

Mothers should stroke their baby's body in the first few weeks after birth because it helps their infant to relax and may make them better at coping with stress, experts believe.

A study in the journal PLOS ONE showed infants who received regular massages and strokes from their mum were more placid and showed fewer reactions to stress at seven months of age than other babies.

The UK researchers from the Universities of Liverpool, Manchester and Kings College, London, believe it is a primal response.

In many types of mammal, the mother licks and grooms her offspring.

Scientists suspect that this grooming soon after birth may increase the activity of genes that play a role in stress.

Dr Helen Sharp and colleagues now plan to follow up the babies in their study to see if early stroking by their mothers continues to make a difference into childhood.

"The eventual aim is to find out whether we should recommend that mothers who have been stressed during pregnancy should be encouraged to stroke their babies early in life,” she said.

The National Childbirth Trust says baby massage can help babies with sleep, wind, colic and relaxation. Massaging your baby can help you bond too.

Visit the rest of our Pregnancy and Caring for your Children Centre for more information on postnatal care or, if you would like to find out something specific, why don’t you post a question for one of our experts?

Source © Trio Media 2012

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