Holding babies – could it be the beginning of their education?

prickles and flowers 001I always held the baby in my left arm. I thought this was to automatically free up my right, being right handed, to carry on doing the essential jobs – like put the kettle on!

Apparently though, it isn’t to do with that at all.

I’m reading a little more about how the brain works at the moment. I’ve always been fascinated about how the brain affects the way we feel and what we believe, as well as how we grow and learn. I’m forever intrigued by the question; are we just the result of our brain activity then?

Ruby Wax’s book ‘Sane New world’ is the result of her own voyage of discovery in managing her depression through mindfulness. So she’s studied the brain and writes about it in ways lay-folk like me can understand. She shows how its growth and development influences who we become and what we feel.

Simply put, brain development is about electrical impulses and connections which develop from the moment we are born. And if there was ever any doubt in your mind about the important reason why parents should be engaged with their babies, she dispels it in a lovely little paragraph about holding them:

“The memory of how Mommy is with Baby influences the baby’s physiology, biology, neurology and psychology. How the brain grows is affected by how she put you down, held, smiled, ignored or forgot you; she is the uber-regulator, the big boss of brain development. The neural clusters for social and emotional learning are sculpted by Mommy’s attunement with Baby. She grows these neurons in the baby by making direct eye contact with her left eye to Baby’s right eye. This is why Mommies usually hold babies in their left arm so this eye contact is made easier. When they gaze into each other’s eyes, their hearts, brains and minds are linking up. These face to face interactions increase oxygen consumption and energy. Also holding the baby in this position means it can hear Mommy’s heartbeat. Seeing her loving face looking down on Baby triggers high levels of endogenous opiates so he experiences pleasure in later social interactions by the positive and exciting stimulation form Mommy.”

 She also says that the linking up of the right and left hemispheres of the brain are accomplished through mum and baby ‘eye contact, facial expressions and speaking goo goo’. In fact, all of a child’s early brain development is based on interactions with mum. And new research shows that even genetic development can be influenced by parental behaviour and changes continuously.

So if ever you needed a good reason to forget the jobs and hold your baby remember that in doing so you are enhancing their mental, emotional, and even genetic development and tendencies.

I never needed another reason – I just loved it anyway. And wouldn’t have missed it for anything. But to all those who doubt the importance of mums (or dads) being at home they need to remember that they are doing a vital job of developing a new member of the human race.

And there’s no substitute for holding!

4 thoughts on “Holding babies – could it be the beginning of their education?

  1. Thank you for this! I can offer lots of cuddles and kisses to both my children, accept these days being 2 and 4 they tend to struggle away a bit. Haha. As babies though, they both got their fair share. By the way, though it was never noticed in school or ever followed up in college I did take a short test for Dyslexia, (at college) which came back positive. So I still have no idea why I find it so hard to learn and grasp concepts but I’m a pretty good problem solver and I love working with my hands. 🙂 x

    • Great you visited Shelly and I’m so glad you enjoyed the post. My kids are still as cuddly as ever – and they’re over twenty now! 🙂 Btw – being a good problem solver and good with your hands are excellent skills which so many others don’t have! And if you’re a dyslexic I would say that it’s not that you find it hard to learn, it’s just that no one has yet found the approach that works best for you. You might like the book recommended in the other comment ‘The Dyslexic Advantage’. And put dyslexia in the search space on this site and you might find more of interest, especially the film ‘Don’t Call Me Stupid’ if it’s still available! All the best! x

  2. Lovely post, nothing more lovely than those early months, simply holding and wondering what those little brains are thinking. I’m currently reading ‘The Dyslexic Advantage’ (Eide et al) which examines the differences between how dyslexic and non dyslexic thinkers use the left and right hand side of the brain very differently from each other. Consequently because Dyslexic thinkers use the left and right hand sides differently, they are much better at spatial reasoning, the trade off is phonological processing…. absolutely fascinating to understand the neurology and also nice to read a book which examines the positives perspective.

    • Thank you Gemma, great you visited and left your comment. I’m fascinated too by the way dyslexics learn and see things. The brain is amazing with all its idiosyncrasies – if that’s the right word!

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