Session 5/15Page 2/5 Topic A: Why is physical stimulation so important for normal brain development and attachment?
Topic A: Why is physical stimulation so important for normal brain development and attachment?
Mammals are born with a very immature and unstable brain, and in the start of life, brain activity can only increase and stabilize if the baby is often stimulated by physical contact.
Problems in early attachment are seen if mothers of new-borns are prevented from touching and taking up their new-born whenever they feel the urge to do so.
For example in hospital studies of birth practices: When new-borns are taken away from the mother according to a fixed schedule during the day, the mothers will more frequently experience feelings of guilt, be more insecure in understanding and interpreting how the baby feels and what it needs and be more insecure in taking decisions about baby care.
If the physical separation periods are very long, the mother may lose the feeling of attachment to the baby and perceive it as a stranger. The feeling of bonding depends on free access to physical contact between mother and baby for a long time after birth.
Premature birth and birth complications are not only a problem for the physical condition of the baby, the fragile new-born will often be separated from the mother for medical reasons (incubators, etc.), and this can have a negative effect on both the baby’s brain activity and the mothers feeling of being attached to the child. For this reason, in many birth hospitals, newborns are no longer separated from their mothers .
If you receive an understimulated newborn or toddler in foster care, here are ways to stimulate brain activity:
You can find a lot of videos on YouTube showing baby massage techniques.
Example of baby massage techniques.
So, female humans only have two breasts on the top front of the body, and native people carry their babies on the arm. This is probably why humans were able to spread all over the globe: Even a mother with a newborn baby can walk for long distances, and thus groups of humans were able to move from camp to camp.
It takes 9-12 months after birth for the baby brain to obtain stable activity.
Please study the pictures and videos and discuss:
- How did your parents and grandparents stimulate babies? Did they carry them on the body?
- Did they use any of the stimulation tools you can see – cradles, hammocks, etc.?
- If you have or have had babies, did you use any of these tools?
- Think about the children younger than one year in your professional care:
- Do you often carry them on the body?
- What do they sleep in?
- How much of their waking time do they spend in a bed or playpen that does not rock or move?