How important are cuddles with a child? Is it one of the most important things you can do with your child?
Research on infant attachment and bonding recognises cuddles are critical to a child's development, and maintaining that bonding helps build important neural pathways in the brain, as there are hormones released from the baby when you cuddle them and that's why when they are crying and you cuddle them and they soothe, they're calm and that's why it's so important. It also gives infants a sense of security and trust.
For all three of my boys I cuddle them as much as possible, because I want to hold on to them as much as possible, to be close to them and to show that I am and always will be there for them, that I love them. So when my baby step-grand-daughter came to live with us when she was 5 months old, I knew what I had to do to help her settle in, to help her adjust to the change from going from her birth mum, to her foster mum, to me. She had been through a lot already, in her short time, from one person to another, from one attachment to another, and all I wanted was to grab hold of her and say (and show) this is me, I am here to stay and I will not let go. So for me it was simple (I hoped), cuddles! Although I did have the fear that she would not be a cuddly baby; maybe she won't like cuddles, maybe she will be one that pushes you away and just wants her space. Either way I was going to try and the best way I knew was to take hold of her and keep hold of her.
Many times over the years I have heard people say:
"boys are much more cuddlier than girls".
.. and all three of my boys are very cuddly and affectionate boys, which I adore. Then my baby granddaughter came to live with us, and we soon found that she loves her cuddles just as much as the boys.. her favourite word is "cuddles". She will often sit with me just cuddling up for as long as we can, quiet, but so many unspoken words pass through the embrace. It worked, cuddles brought us together, it secured a special bond, it settled her, made her one of us, made her feel secure.
When Summer did first come to us, I held on to her as much as she would allow, which was a lot (I still do), and through cuddles we built a bond, one that she trusts me, she loves me, she accepted me- as I do with her. A special bond, through love, echoed through cuddles, we have a close and loving connection, one that I will cherish, and for that I feel extremely lucky.
An infant is there to be cuddled.