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Pathways For Parenthood

The Benefits of “Extravagant” Affection

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Go ahead and shower your baby with love and attention. It’s good for both the physical and emotional health of you and your baby – and breastfeeding too!

At some point, someone somewhere told parents that they should stop showering their babies with love and affection because they risked ‘spoiling’ them. Babies everywhere will tell you this is a terrible idea! They cannot be spoiled by too much love and affection. In fact, countless studies show the benefits of significant amounts of cuddling for babies.

Research shows that babies whose parents respond with “extravagant affection” experience less psychological distress as adults than those whose mothers exhibited a “normal” amount of affection. One way to lavish affection on your baby is to hold your baby close to you, ideally, with your baby’s bare skin next to your bare skin, as much as possible in the early days, weeks and months of life. And as your baby grows older, continue to hold your baby a lot.

Skin to skin contact helps regulate your baby’s temperature, breathing, heart rate and sugar levels. It also calms your baby so she doesn’t get stressed out or cry a lot. Your baby can enjoy being held, skin-to-skin by you, your partner, grandparents, friends, even older siblings who are old enough.

Holding your baby skin-to-skin a lot will help you learn your baby’s cues. It will also increase the level of prolactin you produce. Prolactin is a hormone responsible for helping your body make milk. Many mothers find latching their babies easier when they hold their babies skin to skin. It can calm a fussy baby, making the baby interested in feeding. And holding your baby can calm you too. Holding your baby increases oxytocin in your body. This is the “love” hormone that helps create strong bonds between people.

Holding your baby in a safe baby carrier is a great way to meet both your needs and your baby’s needs. Your baby wants to be with you and the baby carrier takes care of that! For you, it means that you can care for your own needs while caring for your baby. You can make yourself a sandwich, go for a walk, fold laundry, etc.

So, go ahead and lavish your baby with all the love and affection in your heart! It is not possible to spoil your baby with too much cuddling.

La Leche League Canada is a not-for-profit, peer-support organization that has been providing evidence-based breastfeeding information and support for over 60 years. Every month across Canada, La Leche League Leader volunteers host more than 80 meetings allowing parents to share experiences, information, challenges and successes. You can find your local Group and Leader contact information on our website.

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