Babies cry less thanks to skin-to-skin contact

 (Image: Pixabay CC0)
(Image: Pixabay CC0)
It appears beneficial for mothers and babies to have one hour of skin-to-skin contact per day in the first five weeks after birth. Mothers who do so may experience less anxiety and fatigue, and often continue to breastfeed for longer. Their babies cry less and may sleep longer. These are the conclusions of behavioural psychologist Kelly Cooijmans, who defended her PhD dissertation at Radboud University on 17 November.

In skin-to-skin contact, the baby is laid on the parent’s bare chest wearing only a nappy. Previous research has already clearly shown that this type of contact can have positive results when applied between a parent (the mother or other parent/guardian) and a premature baby (a baby born too early). It showed that babies who experience this contact may grow faster and are less likely to be ill, reducing the time they have to spend in an incubator. Similar positive effects have now been found among healthy, full-term babies (babies born between the 37th and 42nd week of pregnancy) when skin-to-skin

Crying less

The results are very promising, claims Cooijmans. "An hour of skin-to-skin contact per day can be hard for parents to fit into their daily routine. But if it is possible, it is really worthwhile. For example, we observed that babies who had daily skin-to-skin contact after birth cried less each periods of crying in the first twelve weeks than babies who did not receive such

Follow-up study

116 pairs of mothers and babies took part in the study. The children who took part in the study are now aged 6 and 7, and are still being studied by the researchers. "Who knows, perhaps we can find more long-term effects", says Cooijmans. In a follow-up study, she would also like to research skin-to-skin contact by fathers or other parents or guardians, as well as the optimal duration of skin-to-skin