Is it possible to hug a baby too much?

Is it possible to hug a baby too much?

If your newborn infant is getting lots of hugs, that’s a very good thing. Researchers at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, OH., have found that gentle touching early in life has positive effects on the baby’s brain. The infants learn that affection is pleasant, not overwhelming.

In studying 125 full-term and premature babies, researchers found that hugs boost brain responses, even in those who have experienced negative experiences, such as trauma, as a newborn.

“We absolutely encourage meaningful touch with babies,” says Dr. Michael Cappello, a neonatologist at Advocate Children’s Hospital. “Even when babies are in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit and their condition makes it impossible for them to be held immediately, we show parents unique ways to touch or wrap their arms around them.”

“We are all about educating moms and dads on the importance of touch,” says Dr. Cappello. “There is no doubt, it makes a difference for your baby.”

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  1. You didn’t answer the question in the headline. The answer is yes: when the infant does not want to be hugged. If a baby is giving clear signs that s/he does not want to be hugged, that needs to be respected so that the child learns that s/he has a right to expect that his/her boundaries will be and should be respected. Sometimes infants need/want to be down on the floor exploring. Sometimes they simply don’t want to be hugged (or perhaps hugged by certain people). Respect that.

  2. It is very obvious to me that you probably needed a hug as a baby and you still need one now.

  3. And it is obvious to me that Amy is very likely a hugger who doesn’t pay attention to adults/children/pets who aren’t too thrilled at her advances.

  4. Ladies, let’s try to be more gentle and thoughtful in our responses to the well as to one another. There is a diplomatic and kind way to express our thoughts. Please think more about responding with empathy to one another in the future.

  5. My mother was a nurse in the NICU. She said “you can never spoil a baby.”

  6. When my (now 22 year old) daughter was a newborn my widowed father told me “hold her as much as you want because some day she won’t want to be held anymore”. I listened to him.

About the Author

Evonne Woloshyn
Evonne Woloshyn

Evonne Woloshyn, health enews contributor, is director of public affairs at Advocate Children's Hospital. Evonne began her career as an anchor and reporter in broadcast news. Over the past 20 years, she has worked in health care marketing in both Ohio and Illinois. Evonne loves to travel, spend time with family and is an avid Pittsburgh Steelers fan!