There are tons of advice on feeding babies and a ton more on how to help them sleep better, as well as various theories as to why they wake up so many times during the night, for which there is no explanation other than to say that it is an evolutionary process and the only remedy is patience.
Nobody disputes that eating and sleeping are basic needs of babies, but the same does not happen with the arms, and yet they are also . It is essential for the development of little ones, both in the short and long term, to feel the contact, warmth and security that mom and dad’s arms give them from birth.
It’s not a whim, it’s a necessity
There are still those who continue to believe that by holding them too much in their arms babies “get used to it” as if it were something bad, and as if children had to grow up, for their own good, away from the protection provided by the human warmth of their main caregivers. .
It’s absurd, right? No one imagines a dog away from her cubs or a mother bear away from her cubs. It is the natural instinct. Mothers not only provide their young with food, but also protection, warmth, affection and support.
The American psychologist Harry Harlow (1905-1981) carried out an experiment with monkeys in the 1960s and discovered that the young had, in addition to the need for food, a universal need for contact , which led him decisively towards Construction of Attachment Theory.
It is no coincidence that babies fall asleep in their arms, and when you put them in the crib they wake up. Because in arms they feel calm and safe , knowing that they are safe there (or rather feeling, -because they are still capable of reasoning-, they simply feel it).
In addition to the protection, and that close to us they feel safe, parenting helps to create a strong bond between parents and children from birth and continues throughout the years.
Human babies need our arms, but also for us as parents it is a precious experience to provide them and not see it as a negative dependency, quite the opposite: knowing that your baby needs your arms is the most beautiful dependency.
There are even more arguments to choose parenting in arms. Evidence backed by scientific studies has shown that the close and comforting touch that young babies receive doesn’t just keep them warm, comfortable and loved.
A study published in 2017 on the effects of attachment parenting, that is, physical contact, touching and hugging, ensures that it affects babies at a molecular level and that these positive effects can last for years .
Scientists at the University of British Columbia in Canada recorded the behavior of 94 parents with their babies for five weeks after birth, as well as the behavior of the babies (sleeping, crying, how long they were awake, etc.).
Four and a half years later, DNA samples were taken from the children to test for a biochemical modification called DNA methylation.
It is an epigenetic mechanism in which some parts of the chromosome are marked with small carbon and hydrogen molecules, which often change the function of genes and affect their expression.
The researchers found differences in DNA methylation between “high-touch” and “low-touch” children at five specific DNA sites, two of which were within genes: one related to the immune system and one to the metabolic system.
There is no doubt that human contact is beneficial for people (both children and adults need it), but this is the first study to show that it could even be changing the epigenetics of human babies .