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How Touch is Important To Your Baby



One of baby's earliest ways of learning is through her sense of touch. Long after she has gained control of her eyes and has begun to learn through them, she will continue to learn by holding, handling, and mouthing objects.

The world is full of many different things that have different "feels" when baby comes in contact with them. The idea that some things are the "same" and others are "different" is one of the most basic of all early learning experiences. One way to help her learn more about "same and different" is to give her many opportunities to experience all those interesting "feels."

The active or fussy baby never lacks the stimulation of being lifted and handled. However, the placid, "very good" baby may be deprived of stimulation that she needs simply because she makes no demands on her parents or caregivers.

All babies gain benefit from gentle stimulation of their senses of touch. If a baby is placed on her stomach without clothing for a short time before her bath, she experiences sensations over her body's skin that she may otherwise miss.

Gently stroke and rub her back, arms and legs with your hands. Pat her gently all over or tap her with your fingertips. Rub her gently with something soft and velvety. A piece of soft corduroy is an excellent source of stimulation. After her bath, don't just pat her dry. Rub her arms, legs, tummy and back with a soft terry cloth towel. Kiss her head, her hands and her feet.

Play with her toes as you talk to her. Pat her feet together. Pat her hands together. Make a bubbling noise against the skin in the hollow of her neck, or against her soft tummy.

A "ticklish" baby is often very sensitive to touch because she has not had enough stimulation of this sense. If your baby is ticklish, begin using her own hands to rub and pat her body. As she learns to trust her own touch, you can gradually begin using your hand.

Remember that a light touch feels more "tickly" than a firmer one. A gentle but firm touch with the palm of your hand is less likely to "tickle" than feather-like stroking with fingertips.

Dennis Dunn, Publisher, Growing Child; P.O. Box 62, Lafayette, IN 47902; 800-927-7289; Dennis@GrowingChild.com