Credit: Shutterstock - Nattanon Kanchak

We’ve all heard the sad stories of animals abandoned by their mothers in the wild, only to die of loneliness and starvation.

When animals are cared for by their mothers, not only do they have access to the food they need to survive and thrive, but they also become different animals in adulthood.

We’ve heard of this phenomenon many times when scientists set out to study monkeys who are abandoned or adopted by different mothers, different species, and even stuffed animals.

The results show that monkeys who have something to cuddle – even a fluffy toy monkey – grow up to have better survival skills and community skills than those monkeys that are abandoned and never have a pseudo-parent to care for them.

It turns out that the same is true of humans. New research says that cuddling your baby can have profound impacts on their lives, and their DNA.

Touch Promotes Immunity

The study was conducted to determine whether or not cuddling and contact between babies and parents has any effect on the lives of babies, especially later in life.

Many previous studies have shown the same outcome: babies who have less physical touch and soothing are more likely to develop immune issues, which leads to these children being sicker, more often than children who were cuddled and held more often as babies.

This is because physical touch and snuggling can physically impact the development of several DNA attributes.

Cuddling Decreases Risk of Obesity

Some findings associated with cuddling and snuggling infants found that several years after birth, children who were cuddled were less likely to be overweight, and they were shown to have a higher metabolism, likely contributing to the healthy weights for children.

What’s more, children who were cuddled as infants were shown to be better sleepers, less needy overall, and had higher levels of maturity related to choices and outlook on life.

Do What Feels Natural

Every parent wants what is best for their children, but they struggle with doing what feels right and doing what society tells them they should do.

For example, many first-time parents will leave their babies to cry for hours on end because a magazine article said not to “spoil” your infants.

The truth is that infants cannot be spoiled because spoiling is giving something in excess, often related to something that is not needed for survival or happiness. So by that definition, you can’t spoil an infant with love.

Snuggling and cuddling and soothing is a way to show your baby you love them.

That means that you should be holding your baby as often as possible because it physically makes them healthier, happier, and less likely to become sick as they grow.

So if you find yourself fighting the urge to hold your baby because other parents have told you not to do it, remember to only take advice from people you want to be like.

Parents aren’t always right when it comes to doing best for their children, but science is never wrong.

Other Benefits of Cuddling Your Infant

While it’s true that too much of a good thing can be a bad thing, no one ever died or suffered from being loved too much.

Cuddling and hugging babies is a natural and easy way to show them you care, make them feel safe, and create a lasting bond between you and your baby.

Not only does cuddling promote improved biology, but it can also help create more opportunity for open and honest communication later in life. Children who feel close and safe with their parents are more likely to open up to them during times of distress, peer pressure, and during times of major life choices.

Children who don’t have a close relationship with their parents don’t include their families in their lives as much, feel alone, and are less healthy when they grow up than children who have felt that closeness to their families since the start.

What all this means then is that nature and nurture are not as separate as we once thought: if our DNA is nature in action, we now know that we can physically alter that DNA with nurture, which means that we have even more control over our biology, health, personality, and values than we previously thought.