When my son was little we spent countless hours cuddling on the sofa or on his bed with books in hand. Like kids tend to do he would lean into me and lay his head against the side of my body. While I read to him I could hear the steady, gentle whisper of him breathing and feel his soothing warmth. I read to him every night, well into his teen years. It was our time, a time we shared, and a time that brought us both a sense of peace. My son is a grown man now, a happy, healthy, well-adjusted member of society. I believe, and science has proven, that cuddling and hugging infants and children often have numerous health benefits.
It’s wonderful to hug and cuddle your kids at any age but it’s especially important the first three months after giving birth. This time is known as the fourth trimester. When a child emerges from the warmth and security of the womb. Cuddling your child during this critical time replicates the experience of being in the womb and helps you and your baby to develop a secure bond with each other. The bonds developed early in life have far-reaching effects later in a child's life; in their self-confidence, social relationships, and the ability to cope with life stressors.
Cuddling isn’t just good for kids, it’s wonderful for parents as well!
Here are just a few of the benefits:
- Encourages calmness and relaxation
- Improved muscle tone and circulation
- Improved pulmonary and immune functions
- Improved sleep patterns
- Lower anxiety and stress
- Reduced discomfort from teething, congestion, colic and emotional stress
- Strengthens digestive, circulation and gastrointestinal systems
Holding and cuddling with your child is good. You cannot spoil your child by holding them too much. Babies that are well cared for and have their needs met and are held often are more likely to have higher self-images and learn they are respected and worthy. Go ahead and give your child a hug! It’s healthy!
Robert Giesler BSN, RN, RNC-NIC RRT, CPST chla.org