Babies are more reassured if their parents hug them before a stranger

Babies are more reassured if their parents hug them before a stranger

Babies need to touch their mother from the start, as suggested by Harry Harlow’s experiments with monkeys and wire dolls. This kind of physical contact is as important as food; both for emotional and physical development, as well as for intellectual development.

However, the contact is not the same whether it comes from a stranger or from parents , according to a new study .

Qualitative differences

For babies as young as four months, a hug from a parent makes a difference, as this new study from Toho University in Tokyo suggests.

The study measured heart rate responses in babies under one year of age during a hug and found that children as young as four months experienced a greater decrease in heart rate during a parent hug compared to a hug from a stranger. .


The researchers note that the study offers some of the first evidence that hugs play an important role in early parent-child bonding. As the study’s first author Sachine Yoshida explains :

Babies older than four months showed a higher rate of increase in heartbeat intervals during hugging by their parents than by strangers. Parents also showed a high rate of increase in heartbeat intervals when hugging their babies. We found that both babies and parents relax by hugging.

Babies younger than four months did not show the same effect, but those little babies showed a slower heart rate when a parent’s hand put pressure on their back while holding them , suggesting they didn’t make the same distinction as older babies. between being hugged and not being hugged.