Touch Comes First

Tune in to your baby&s sensory sensitivity to help her feel secure in your arms.

Nov 28, 2012



Touch Comes First

Nov 28, 2012

During the first year, your baby needs to be stroked and cuddled in your arms, held on your lap, and draped over your shoulder as much as possible. Although it's hard to keep a baby on your hip for long periods of time, taking as much time as possible to rock him back and forth and croon to him will help him feel secure and grow more confident. Touch comes first — and it also comes easily once you understand your baby's point of view. 


Showing a Sensitive Side

If your baby doesn't seem to like being held, it's possible that she has sensory integration difficulties. Some babies react with discomfort to certain sounds, scents, and touches. If your child's reaction to touch is to behave as if she is very distressed, she may feel better if you carry her on a soft cushion rather than in your arms when she is very little.


Babies with sensory integration troubles might react by squirming and protesting if their clothing doesn't feel right. If your baby seems sensitive to uncomfortable clothing, it's best to dress him in soft cottons. After washing clothes, you may need to double rinse them so that soap residue won't irritate his skin.


Sometimes, a baby with sensory integration struggles will fuss if touch is too light and gentle. She may feel the need for deeper, firmer contact. When you hold her, be sure to put her cheek firmly against yours as you put her to your shoulder. Let her feel the deep pressure of this firm touch; this often soothes a child with sensory integration troubles.  


Freedom to Move

Some babies are not allowed to move as freely as they need to. For example, some parents absentmindedly hold both of their baby's hands while trying to spoon food into her mouth. But babies even 6 months old like to grab at the spoon and try to participate in the feeding process. This can get messy and the natural reaction is to restrain baby's hands. But when that same baby is being held, she might interpret it as another form of having her body movements limited.


Be sure to give your baby lots of "floor time" on his tummy, on a warm, safe surface. This will give him a chance to move his limbs rhythmically. Put an interesting rattle nearby, where he only has to stretch to bang or shake it. Once your baby starts to associate your tender care with giving him free movement, he may be far more interested in being held.


No matter what the reason for your baby's fussing when you pick her up, your patient, calm acceptance will help her adjust. As she learns to trust that in your arms she is safely held, talked to, admired, and comfortably cared for, she will gradually relax and enjoy her princess position.

Age 2
Age 1