The skin is our body’s largest ‘organ’ – These truths have been reinforced in me with the recent births of my grandsons. I jumped at any and every opportunity to nuzzle my grandsons and feel their perfectly, unblemished skin—and inhale their wonderful newborn smell! I could (and DID) let minutes, hours go by just staring at these wondrous beings!
Using our senses—touching, tasting, seeing, hearing, and smelling—is how we first gather information about the world around us. Our sense of touch is especially designed to gather information about our surroundings…as well as to connect with each other; the ability to touch helps to create bonds between us. Affectionate, positive touch is associated with enhanced learning, language processing, improved problem solving even physical growth in children.
The sense of touch is so vital it’s important to provide your child with ample opportunities for tactile experiences. Information from our sense of touch enters the nervous system from every single part of the body. It is processed through in two ways: Via a sensory pathway for basic facts and figures like temperature and/or texture and another route that determines the emotional/social meaning behind the touch. There is a socio-emotional connection to the physical action of touch–it gives a socio-emotional context to the touch.
Tactile activities can be thought of as a foundation supporting the eventual transition to more ‘cerebral’ activities. When children engage in coloring, painting, drawing, and/or movement they are setting up the needed ‘scaffolding’ to transition their learning to the left side of their brains for enhanced language skills, reading, writing, critical thinking, and problem solving skills.
Some of the first tactile experiences you offer your baby are cradling and hugging. Hugging impacts all developmental domains: physical, emotional, social and cognitive. Hugging is not only good for children but adults too. Hugging and/or skin-to-skin contact benefits baby and Mom (or baby and Dad) and can have long-lasting effects.
Yours in Play!