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Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Attachment Parenting Series: Nurturing Touch

For those who have been following our attachment parenting series, let's discuss principle # 4 Nurturing Touch ;

Let me share with you one of the quotes in this book that has stuck with me since I first read it. It is in reference to a Doctor who toured a children's clinic in Germany before World War I.

"As he was shown about the wards, he noticed a large old woman who was carrying a very sick infant. When he inquired who the woman was, the attending physician said, "Oh that is Old Anna. When we have done everything we can medically for a baby, and it is still not doing well, we turn it over to Old Anna, she is always successful"... as she rocked and held these fragile babies. Dr Talbot introduced this kind of care when he returned to Boston, and his methods spread. In 1938, Bellevue Hospital in NY established the rule that every baby should be picked up and "mothered" on the pediatric wards; that year their death rate fell from 35% to less than 10%" (p127).

So clearly, simply holding a baby will not answer all of our infant problems in the world, but just take a look around at other mammals. They carry babies on their backs, or hold them close to their chest, and encouraging a reciprocating touch relationship. Infants in certain African tribes have been found in research to be with their mothers (directly, as in being held or worn) 70% of the time, versus infants in the US and England, which conversely are only with their mothers (as described above) 25% of the time, and in daycares a mere 14% of the time.

Kangaroo Care

I know I have mentioned kangaroo care before, but this is one of the prime examples of nurturing touch, especially when it comes to premature infants. Essentially it describes skin to skin contact between the mothers (caregivers) and the infants. Babies that experience kangaroo care have been shown to gain weight faster, sleep better, nurse better, and have more stable heart rates and temperatures.

Chiropractic & Infant Massage

As I mentioned in my post about my own experience with chiropractic and infant massage , the benefits of each can be overwhelming. Both can help with nursing/latch issues, allergies, relaxation, general improvement in immune system, and overall improvement in the parent-child bonding experience. Infant massage classes are also available now in most communities.

photo courtesy of New England Chiropractic Westbrook, Maine


We've already discussed the topic of babywearing in fairly significant detail in A Parent's Call to Arms, and I'm an Attached Parent, Are You?  The moral of the babywearing story is this, every other culture in the world (yes, the world) besides Americans and much of England, wear their babies; and none of those cultures experience what we describe as colic. Hmmmmm....

Since this theory of Nurturing Touch carries through past infancy to continue the bonding experience with your child, older children can still enjoy massages and even the benefits of chiropractic. Additionally, frequent hugs and snuggles are also recommended. :)

How do you practice nurturing touch in your home? Have you tried infant massage or chiropractic? What were your thoughts?

1 comment:

  1. One of my Twincesses didn't gain weight for a while in the beginning. The pediatrician recommended a "formula" to boost my breastmilk (seriously?!), but I refused to use it. Instead I spent more time skin-to-skin with her and we took her to a chiropractor. The results were amazing! No supplements, only touch helped her to get back on track with gaining weight.

    There is nothing like the power of touch, especially that of a mother!

    We wore them in wraps all the time, only now that they're over a year (and getting heavier lol!) do we use a pram when we go shopping.