Let’s be honest, moms and dads, you don’t need me to tell you how incredibly common it is for parents to show their babies a bit of affection. It’s a natural compulsion for a mum or dad to give their little bundle of joy some TLC in the form of a kiss, cuddle, or hug.
The reasons for wanting to show your child a bit love and affection are obvious, but what if I told you there was a whole new reason to hug and kiss your baby? Even better…there are three.
1. Kissing your baby can help strengthen their immune system
By kissing a baby, namely newborns in this case, you take in a number of harmful pathogens that have been resting on your baby’s skin. When you absorb these pathogens via kiss, they make their way down to the lymphoid organs (e.g. tonsils). These pathogens can actually be revitalized and stimulated after reaching the lymphoid organs and making contact with memory B cells.
Thankfully, the memory B cells produce antibodies that work to combat the harmful pathogens. This is incredibly beneficial for nursing mothers, because as their babies breastfeed, they’re exposed to the antibodies that can help to build their immune system against a wide range of sicknesses.
Think of it like this: when you kiss your baby, your body takes in potential sickness(es) and then develops an antidote for that sickness. When you breastfeed you’re giving your baby that antidote.
Kissing your baby makes mums a walking talking immunity booster!
2. Affection can raise your baby’s IQ and overall intelligence
There have always been suggestions that overly nurturing your child can result in dependency problems, behaviorial, and emotional problems. This is actually a huge misconception and research by Harry F. Harlow in the 1950s and, more recently, Kim Bard (University of Portsmouth in England) has worked to shoot this claim down.
These noteworthy studies used chimps to monitor the effects of attachment parenting and physical affection. In summation, both studies found that motherly love helped develop more intellectual and adept chimps.
In another study conducted by the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, brain images were taken and revealed that love and affection from a parent can have positive influences on brain development.
In fact, the study found that the hippocampus (the learning and memory center of the brain) was 10% larger in children who were nurtured and shown love as a baby.
If you’re looking for more reasons to smooch your infant, in her book Why Love Matters, Sue Gerhardt suggests the following benefits of hugs and kisses:
- Loving your baby and showing it through touches or by responding to baby’s signals help its brain mature without letting it get stressed out.
- Your little human feels secured, and it enables the brain to develop in various aspects.
- Your baby develops a robust stress response.
- You help your baby to hold more information in the prefrontal cortex, learn restraint over impulses, and help to adjust in social relationships.
- Kissing helps your little one get exposed to positive experiences of love.
- Loving and kissing can help it build more neuronal connections in the brain thereby making your baby smart.
3. Physical affection teaches babies empathy
While the previous entries emphasize the physical benefits of nurturing, you can’t underestimate the emotional benefits.
Expressing your love for your baby doesn’t just build a unique relationship between baby and parent, it also helps to cultivate a unique personality and demeanor. Babies who are nurtured understand the importance of sensitivity and other people’s needs and feelings.
This can lead to them being able to relate and interact better with their peers. Obviously, these are all great qualities if your child wants to form meaningful relationships with friends and family as they grow older.
As I said, you probably don’t need me to tell you that hugging and kissing your baby. However, these surprisingly significant benefits are incentive to give baby a few extra smooches before bedtime!
This article was originally published by Mom Junction
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