Stroking babies at this speed can reduce their experience of pain

Posted in Care.
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There are few things more beautiful than the feeling of your baby’s skin.

And as a new parent, we’re encouraged to have as much skin-to-skin contact with our little ones as possible, to boost connection.

When both our sons got colic around the four-month mark, I was shown a particular way of massaging their little tummies to help ease the wind. And it helped, too.

The truly healing power of touch

Now scientists from Oxford University have taken things one step further, discovering a positive link between the way we touch our babies and pain relief.

According to the research team, babies have 18 of the 20 pain receptors found in adults, yet they have a much lower pain threshold.

The discovery is important because babies obviously lack the communication skills to explain how they are feeling, which makes it harder for us to know how to help them.

Which brings us to the next, interesting, part of the study.  

According to the lead researcher, Professor John Stokes, stroking babies at a particular speed – approximately three centimetres per second – eases their pain quite rapidly. And more fascinating still is the fact that parents intuitively understand this speed and do it unconsciously! 


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What does that mean for parents at home?

Touch your baby! Massage your baby and when they’re in pain don’t leave them in the cot, pick them up and snuggle them as much as possible.

“Anybody touching anybody can give them comfort, it’s very nurturing,” says mothercraft nurse Chris Minogue. “You can soothe your baby by rocking and stroking them or tickling their back.”

Chris also recommends taking off your baby’s clothes when you are comforting them, to get the full effect of the touch sensation.

“Direct touch on a baby’s skin regulates their emotional state,” says Chris. “A bath will do the same thing, so I often recommend parents follow a feed, bath, massage, feed, bed routine. This helps the baby really relax and then really sleep well.”

What a beautiful routine to follow at night. Not that you needed another excuse to cuddle them, of course

Snuggle up.

It’s good for everyone.

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