Archive for the ‘Holding your baby too much’ Category

There once was a rich lord, who was in need of a carriage driver. He interviewed several potential drivers asking them all the same question, “The road which leads to my castle has many dangerous areas. On one stretch of that road there is a steep mountain on one side and a sharp drop-off into a canyon on the other side. If you were to be selected to drive my carriage, just how close to that cliff do you think you could get the carriage without going over the edge?”

The first man said timidly, “Well, I am a good driver! I suppose could get your carriage to within 6 feet from the edge!”

The second man said more confidently, “I am an excellent driver! I could get your carriage at least 3 feet from the edge!”

The third man said boldly, “None surpass me in excellence! I am sure I could get the carriage right up to the edge of the road without going over!”

But for all their professed skill, it was the fourth man who was hired
The fourth man had said, “Sir, if you would give me the honor and privilege of driving your carriage, I would stay as far away from the edge of the cliff as possible.”

In the book, “The Ethical Use of Touch in Psychotherapy” by Mick Hunter and Jim Struve they say:
“Cultural norms that discourage touch are neither new nor unique to American culture. The depth of our understanding about the devastating impact of touch deficits is relatively recent, however. The reality that children may actually die from a lack of physical touch is demonstrated by historical events surrounding foundling homes and orphanages. These institutions were developed during the 19th century with the expectation of providing them (orphans) with a better future. 

Throughout the 19th century and the first quarter of the 20th century, however, as many children died as survived this form of institutionalized care.

A German foundling home at the end of the 19th century had a mortality rate exceeding 70% for infants in their first year of life, and a 1915 study of American orphanages revealed death rates for children ranging from 32% to 75% before the end of their 2nd year of life. That same 1915 study reported that child care institutions in Baltimore were estimated to have a mortality rate approaching 90% and that Randall’s Island Hospital in New York had a mortality rate close to 100% that same year.

Foundling homes and orphanages were solidly grounded in the prevailing medical and social norms that dominated European and American cultures during that period, constructs that forbade physical contact of any type between staff and children…”

The time babies in orphanages would spend alone in their cribs would represent one end of the scale as an extreme. The other end of that scale (the opposite extreme) would be a woman (probably a hippie or “native”) who uses a sling to carry her baby, sleeps with her baby, nurses her baby, and never separates herself from her baby at all.

Studies all over the world have shown that babies who are carried on the body and receive high amounts of touch and contact with their mothers and other family members flourish physically (have better immune systems and gain more weight the first year), emotionally (cry less and have reduced stress hormones), and intellectually (have higher IQs).

Then, as we see with the case of the orphanages, the other end of that scale, we have babies that although they receive food and shelter, are kept clean, changed, warm, etc., they sleep alone in cribs and are not rocked and carried and held…end up just dying for no apparent reason. Other babies who do not die are often small (failure to thrive), have emotional issues (anger), have behavioral issues, and have reduced intelligence (lower IQs). (As in studies done on infants in Romanian orphanages)

So, if you are hired by “the Lord” to have the tremendous honor of “driving His carriage” or caring for a baby that He gives you…just how close are you willing to go toward (parent toward) “that cliff”? How close to the “orphanage extreme” end of the scale do you want to go?

If not being touched and held enough is enough to end a child’s life, what of the common modern-culture saying that “if you hold a baby too much you will spoil them”? What of our modern-culture habit of isolating our babies in a nursery away from everyone else all alone? All of that sounds too close to the wrong end of the scale. Sounds to me like holding your baby “too much” might make them healthier all around and might just save their life…
Suggested searches:
Touch deprivation
Somatosensory deprivation
Newborn brain development cortisol effects
The book quoted above has a sample of that entire chapter here:

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