All We Need Is Love
One of my very best friends recently had a baby, and I’ve been reflecting on all the things I’ve heard and learned over the years regarding parenting.
Does cuddling affect brain development in babies? Science explores.
One of the studies I learned about in a Brain and Behaviour course at university has always stuck with me. The study followed several mothers and their children for 35 years and measured physical touch and how being cuddled affects our brain development, and how successful we are as adults.
The researchers had mothers of infants start tracking how much time they spent snuggling their babies every day. This longitudinal study continued as the children grew. The mothers continued to track how much they cuddled and hugged their children throughout infancy, childhood, and even when they were teenagers.
Once the children were adults, they interviewed them to see what they were up to. They wanted to measure each participant’s success by learning more about their relationship status and history, their employment status and history, and their overall reported happiness.
The results are in!
I’m sure you can guess that the adults who had the most physical touch as children were the most successful. These adults reported higher happiness levels, had more positive and fulfilling relationships and were more independent.
This does not mean that these super-snuggled children didn’t have hardships. They did. Just as many as their non-cuddled peers, in fact. They misstepped, they failed, and they made mistakes. They reported heartbreaks and regrets.
But they were resilient and had a solid family foundation. They knew they were loved unconditionally, and they felt more worthy of love and happiness than their less-snuggled counterparts.
So, find your child. And no matter how old they are-snuggle them. Right now. And every single day. Even if they are already teenagers. Or an adult. Let them know that they are good enough. That they are wonderful. That they are everything you had hoped they would be when you first laid eyes on them. Squeeze them tight and hold them extra long. And repeat this as often as you can. Their hearts and brains will thank you for it.
Because there is no such thing as loving your child too much or spoiling your child with love, in fact, I think we all need a little more love and hugs.
And science agrees.