Hold Me! The Importance of Physical Contact with Infants
This paper addresses the beneficial psychological and physiological effects of touching, carrying, and holding infants. Through an overview of research, scientific evidence is provided that substantiates the importance of close physical contact in each of the three major states of consciousness: awake, asleep, and crying. A historical and cross-cultural perspective is also included. Implications and recommendations are made for child rearing by modern parents in industrialized nations.
Acolet, D., Medi, N., Giannakoulopoulos, X., Bond, C., Weg, W., Clow, A., Glover, V. (1993). Changes in plasma cortisol and catecholamine concentrations in response to massage in preterm infants. Archives of Diseases in Childhood, 68, 29-31.
Ainsworth, M.D., Bell, S.M., and Stayton, D.J. (1971). Individual differences in strangesituation behavior in one-year-olds. In H.R. Schaffer (Ed.), The Origins of Human Social Relations. London and New York: Academic Press.
Barr, R., Konner, M., Bakeman, R., and Adamson, L. (1991). Crying in !Kung infants: A test of the cultural specificity hypothesis. Developmental Medicine and Child Neurology, 33, 601-610.
Bell, S.M. and Ainsworth, M.D. (1972). Infant crying and maternal responsiveness. Child Development, 43, 1171-1190.
Bowlby, J. (1958). The nature of the child's tie to his mother. International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 39, 350-373.
Brazelton, T.B. (1992). Touchpoints: Your child's emotional and behavioral development. Addison-Wesley Publishing House.
Carlson, M., Dragomir, C., Earls, F., Farrell, M., Macovei, O., Nystrom, P., and Sparling, J. (1995). Effects of social deprivation on cortisol regulation in institutionalized Romanian infants. Abstracts of the Society for Neuroscience, 21, 524.
Casier, L. (1965). The study of the effects of extra tactile stimulation on the development of institutionalized infants. Genetic Psychology Monographs, 71, 137-175.
de Zegher, F., Vanhole, C., Van den Berghe, G., Devlieger, H., Eggermont, E., Veldhuis, J.D. (1994). Properties of thyroid-stimulating hormone and cortisol secretion by the human newborn on the day of birth. Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, 79(2), 576-581.
Emerson, W. (1993). Somatotropic Therapy. In Innovative therapies. London: Open University Press.
Field, T.M., Schanberg, S.M., Scarfidi, F., Bauer, C.R., Vega-Lahr, N., Garcia, R., Nystrom, J., and Kuhn, C.M. (1986). Tactile/kinesthetic stimulation effects on preterm neonates. Pediatrics 77, 654-658.
Frey, W.H. and Langseth, M. (1985). Crying: The mystery of tears. Winston Press.
Gardner, L.I. (1972). Deprivation dwarfism. Scientific American, 227, 76-82.
Gray, L., Watt, L., Blass, E.M. (2000). Skin-to-skin contact is analgesic in healthy newborns. Pediatrics 105(1): e14.
Gunnar, M.R., Larson, M.C., Hertsgaard, D.L., Harris, M.L., and Brodersen, L. (1992). The stressfulness of separation among nine-month-old infants: effects of social context variables and infant temperament. Child Development, 63, 290-303.
Harlow, H. (1958). Affectional responses in the infant monkey. Science, 130, 421.
Holt, L. (1919). The care and feeding of children. Appleton-Century.
Hunziker, V.A. and Barr, R.G. (1986). Increased carrying reduces infant crying: A randomized controlled trial. Pediatrics, 77, 641-648.
Kaler, S.R. and Freeman, B.J. (1994). Analysis of environmental deprivation: Cognitive and social development in Romanian orphans. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 35, 769-781.
Karle, W., Corriere, R., and Hart, J. (1973). Psychophysiological changes in abreaction therapy. Study I: Primal Therapy. Psychotherapy: Theory, Research and Practice, 10, 117-122.
Keck, G.G. and Kupecky, R.M. (1995). Adopting the hurt child. Colorado Springs: Pinon Press.
Lewis, M. and Ramsay, D. (1995). Stability and change in cortisol and behavioral response to stress during the first 18 months of life. Developmental Psychobiology, 28(8), 419-428.
Liedloff, J. (1975). The continuum concept. Addison-Wesley Publishing Company, Inc.
Ludington-Hoe, S.M., Thompson, C., Swinth, J., Hadeed, A.J., and Anderson, G.G. (1994). Kangaroo care: Research results, and practical implications and guidelines. Neonatal Behavior, Vol. 13, No. 1, 19-27.
McKenna, J.J. (1995). The potential benefits of infant-parent cosleeping in relation to SIDS prevention: Overview and critique of epidemiological bed sharing studies. In Ole Torliev Rognum, Ed. Sudden infant death syndrome: New trends in the nineties. Oslo, Norway: Scandinavian University Press.
Miller, A. (1983). For your own good: Hidden cruelty in child-rearing and the roots of violence. New York: Farrar, Straus, Giroux.
Myeroff, R., Mertlich, G., and Gross, J. (1999). Comparative effectiveness of holding therapy with aggressive children. Child Psychiatry and Human Development, 29(4), 303-313.
Provence, S. and Lipton, R.C. (1962). Infants in institutions. New York: International Universities Press, Inc.
Renggli, F. (1992). Selbstzerstörung aus Verlassenheit: Die Pest als Ausbruch einer Massenpsychose im Mittelalter. Rasch und Röhring Verlag.
Rognum, O.T. (1995) Sudden infant death syndrome: New trends in the nineties. Oslo, Norway: Scandinavian University Press.
Sapolsky, R.M. (1994). Why zebras don't get ulcers. New York: W.H. Freeman and Company.
Schatzman, M. (1973). Soul murder: Persecution in the family. New York: Random House.
Solter, A. (1989). Helping young children flourish. Goleta, CA: Shining Star Press.
Solter, A. (1998). Tears and tantrums: What to do when babies and children cry. Goleta, CA: Shining Star Press.
Solter, A. (2001). The aware baby (revised edition). Goleta, CA: Shining Star Press.
Spitz, R. (1945). Hospitalism: an inquiry into the genesis of psychiatric conditions in early childhood. Psychoanalytic Study of the Child, 1, 53-74.
Thevenin, T. (1987). The family bed: An age old concept in child rearing. Wayne, New Jersey: Avery Publishing Group, Inc.
Van der Kolk, B. (1987). Psychological trauma. Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Press.
Welch, M. (1983). Retrieval from autism through mother-child holding therapy. In E.G.Tinbergen (Ed.), Autistic children: New hope for a cure. London: George Allen and Unwin.
Welch, M. (1988). Holding time. Simon and Schuster.
Weston, J. (1968). The pathology of child abuse. In R. Heifer and C. Kempe (Eds.) The battered child. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Whitelaw, A., Heisterkamp, G., Sleath, K, Acolet, D., and Richards, M. (1988). Skin to skin contact for very low birthweight infants and their mothers. Archives of Diseases in Childhood, 63, 1377-1381.
Woldenberg, L., Karle, W., Gold, S., Corriere, R., Hart, J., and Hopper, M. (1976). Psychophysiological changes in feeling therapy. Psychological Reports, 39, 1059-1062.
Aletha Solter, Ph.D.