One of the things I have loved, loved, LOVED about being momma to baby M are the pre-nap snuggles.
My third baby is the only one who truly loves to snuggle with me. Even as infants, S and C would wiggle in my arms as I rocked and sang to them before nap. They weren’t upset, they just wanted to look around – at the room, at the fan, even at me.
They were never fully relaxed enough to snuggle up as I had envisioned they would. Eventually I came to terms with it, figuring that’s just how babies actually were.
Then little M entered my life.
The first four months of his life were literally, one long hug. He never wanted to be anywhere but on me. So that’s where he stayed, 24/7, living and sleeping in his carrier during the day and sleeping right next to me at night.
Eventually he grew out of it, but even when he started sleeping and napping in his own crib at around 5 months, every day before sleep time he’d still bury his little head into the crook of my neck, nuzzle his chest right up against mine, and hug me contently until I lowered him to his crib.
It was heaven.
Every day at that time I would experience actual, physical sensations of joy and it always reminded me of the instant euphoria I felt when the nurses placed my first child (and each of my subsequent children) on my chest right after he or she was born.
The undeniable, physical impact these baby hugs had on me and my mood got me thinking a lot about hugs and happiness.
Fast forward to our new partnership with Huggies and I’ve found that they, too really believe in the power of hugs.
In fact, their diapers and wipes are inspired by a parent’s embrace, keeping babies’ skin snug, dry and protected.
They also have some amazing programs working with communities and hospitals that I can’t wait to tell you guys about in the coming months.
Until then, I asked our contributor Kristin to do a little research on the science of the hug and pass on her tips. Here’s what she found…
There’s nothing better than the smell of a newborn. That squishy skin and fluffy hair just makes you want to snuggle all day long. As they grow, you get to the stage where they are pushing off and ready to go explore the world.
They come back for cuddles but, the older children get, the more independent they become.
That’s a wonderful and healthy process- but have you noticed that as we propel through adulthood, we cuddle less?
Our amount of daily hugs goes down. And here’s the crazy thing, studies like the whitepaper The Power of Human Touch for Babies, funded by Huggies® Diapers, show that we need hugs to maintain emotional health.
In fact, when it comes to staying healthy, Hugs are underrated! They boost everything from oxytocin levels to self-esteem. A full-body hug stimulates your nervous system while decreasing feelings of loneliness, combating fear, increasing self-esteem, defusing tension, and showing appreciation (source).
I’m a mom of middle-schoolers and a teenager now and, as the kids have grown, I’ve made it a goal to never stop hugging, snuggling or cuddling.
I guess I just figured if I never stopped, it would never be awkward to start it back up again!
I know many of you are moms of younger children, so here’s my advice: don’t forget to keep hugging every day!
Even when they are growing and stretching – and sometimes moody – they still need hugs.
For bigger kids, a great time to get in some ‘together-ness‘ is on the couch at night. We may be reading or watching TV, but when we all get on our big sectional couch, we get close. We share blankets and the dog even gets in on the affection.
I’ve noticed that my kids now initiate the hugging. If it becomes a constant in their life, they start to crave it.
The “Right Way” to Hug
Of course any hug is a worthwhile endeavor, but there’s actual science behind the best kinds of hugs we can give our kids – how cool is that?
Hugs in which each participant’s heart is pressed up against the others’ stimulate the thymus gland. This regulates and balances the body’s production of white blood cells, which in turn keeps you healthy and disease free (source).
Don’t Let Go Before Six
Another study shows that the hugs should be about 6 seconds long for maximum happiness benefits (source).
This seems like a long time. But, if you think about it, doesn’t a long embrace communicate much more than a quick and abrupt hug?
When my kids were younger, I used to make them hug it out when they had a squabble. It was part of the saying I’m sorry and I thought it would help them to really forgive one another.
But then I noticed that the hugs were obligatory, so I told them they had to hug until they were laughing. It’s funny how you can’t really be angry at someone when you are that close to them. The long hugs melted away the issues into giggles.
Get in 8 a Day!
How can you get all those hugs into your day? Start by hugging when kids wake up and are going to bed. Kids are calmer as they are beginning and ending their day, so it’s a natural place to start.
You can also fit hugs in as you are greeting them, think school aged children leaving and coming home from school.
Other good times include any time you are stationary, like on the couch. This is an easy opportunity to have a child tucked under your arm, getting in a few more hugs for their daily quota.
We hope these tips get you thinking about more ways to hug your kids each and every day!
*Huggies® believes deeply in the Power of Hugs. The simple, loving act is proven to support babies’ emotional and physiological well-being. Huggies® diapers and wipes are inspired by a parent’s hug, – to nurture baby with care, cradle baby in comfort and surround baby in protection. Make sure you embrace baby’s bottom with Huggies® Little Snugglers Diapers to deliver our best skin care to help keep baby’s skin clean and healthy. Learn more at Huggies.com. #HuggiesCouncil
This post is sponsored by Huggies®, all opinions are 100% our own.