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The Science of Hugs

Dad hugging baby skin to skin Photo credit: Getty

As human beings, we instinctively understand an embrace is among the most positive of human interactions, but did you know there’s real data and science backing up the power of hugs—especially when it comes to helping babies flourish?

“I tell all my patients it’s important to take advantage of as many moments as possible throughout the day to hug your baby and ensure they receive the gentle touch they need,” says Dr. William Sears, a prominent pediatrician and co-author of The Healthy Pregnancy Book. “You can work in special bonding moments with your baby during playtime, before bedtime and of course [you can] pull them into a comforting embrace when they’re upset.” 

Huggies® commissioned the Canadian Association of Pediatric Health Centres to summarize the key findings of more than 600 scientific papers on the positive effect hugs can have on pain relief, physiological stability (e.g., heart rate, temperature), crying, sleep, illness, weight gain and growth, time in hospital, parent satisfaction, breastfeeding rates, parent-infant interaction, and infant and parent mental health.

These benefits don’t stop in early infanthood. "The Power of Human Touch for Babies" paper found that premature babies who received at least one hour of human touch each day for a span of 14 days slept better, had better physical outcomes and saw better outcomes on executive functioning—the processes involved in running the brain and organizing information and memories—as the children grew older.

In light of this, Huggies has launched No Baby Unhugged to ensure all babies get all the critical hugs they need. As part of this effort, Huggies awarded $10,000 grants to eligible hospitals enabling them to launch a new volunteer hugging program or expand support for an existing program.

You can help support these volunteer hugging programs when you become a Huggies member. Follow the link to Join Today and Huggies will donate $5 to support these No Baby Unhugged grants.

And, of course, snuggle and hug your baby at every opportunity. It’s one of the best gifts you can give your child.


By Rebecca Levey
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