My New Life
My New Life
Jul 1, 2020
How and Why Human Touch is Important for Kids
Play • 23 min

Host Jessica Rolph welcomes Rebecca Parlakian to this episode to talk about the power of touch between infants and parents. 


Few moments are more tender in those first weeks of life than when your baby reaches out and takes your finger while in your arms. It’s the all-important language of touch at work! Social connection is not the only connection at work in that moment; there are neural connections forming as your baby makes contact with that finger. In today’s episode, Jessica and Rebecca examine the importance of touch for both baby and parent.


Rebecca Parlakian is a senior director program at Zero to Three, a national nonprofit organization that focuses on the healthy development of infants, toddlers, and families. Much of her work at Zero to Three is connected to the work of Dr. Andrew Meltzoff at the University of Washington Institute for Learning and Brain Sciences. 


Key Takeaways:

[1:27] Rebecca talks about Dr. Meltzoff’s research, and how physical touch helps to develop a baby’s sense of self and other.

[3:03] When do babies know that they have hands?

[3:58] How important is skin-to-skin contact between a parent and a baby?

[5:32] Rebecca discusses how parents can incorporate touch after the hospital — with infants and toddlers.

[6:12] What is Rebecca’s opinion of the research that indicates babies don't get the same benefit by being hugged by a friendly stranger as they do by a loved one? 

[7:32] Is there any research that supports skin-to-skin contact after the hospital? 

[9:09] What role can massage play in enhancing that bond between a parent and a child? 

[11:10] The nine elements of temperament.

[12:34] Some children love to get their hands messy and other children have an aversion to touching things. What causes this range in sensory preferences?

[13:40] The characteristics of sensory-aversive and sensory-seeking children.

[15:02] Why is sensory play important for a child’s development

[16:25] Why is mouthing natural and important?

[18:03] Is sucking a thumb or finger positive for a baby’s development?

[20:01] What is the earliest memory of touch?

[21:15] Jessica shares the highlights of her conversation with Rebecca.


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