Research has found that touch, combined with gentle massage, had a positive effect on infant weight gain and survival rates. These are interesting results considering the Attachment Theory.
In addition to this research it has been found that children who were picked up, hugged, cuddled, cradled, and petted or stroked were shown to gain weight faster and began normal developments like crawling and walking earlier. These infants also slept better and were more alert when awake due to an increase in general relaxation. Gently stroking a baby’s stomach in a clockwise direction has been found to promote healthy digestion and can help alleviate gas pains and constipation. Massage can also relieve some of baby’s colic pain and discomfort.
Touching an infant has also been shown to develop and strengthen the attachment between a parent and a baby. This attachment increases feelings of security, trust, and comfort. The child learns that his parent is there to love and protect him. He will feel safer and more relaxed, and he will learn to cry only when he has a need to be met. This feeling does not just nurture an infant, constant touch helps reinforce the parent-child relationship for years to come.As Sister Beck has said, we need mothers that now how to comfort and nurture their babies with compassion and love. This is truly their special assignment and role under the plan of happiness. It is so interesting to me to find research that supports the importance of this divine role.
It is also important to note how nurturing is continuously important throughout a child's life. Parents can nurture their older children by being involved and interested in the child's school and other activities, aware of the child or teen's interests and friends, and willing to advocate for the child when necessary.
When parents spend time and energy discovering and paying attention to their children's needs, they are rewarded with positive, open, and trusting relationships with their children. This reminds me of how Heavenly Father's relationship is with us. He is always willing to be there for us, it is when we spend the time coming unto Him and doing His work when our relationship grows and develops. He trusts and loves us even more and since He already knows us perfectly it gives us an opportunity to come to truly know Him. Heavenly Father is truly our greatest parenting example.
Parents who develop the ability to respond sensitively to the needs of their child, no matter what age, will find parenting easier and more enjoyable.