The Healing Touch

Baby has an owie – what to do?

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science.

Seeing an infant in pain can break your heart. Mommy’s touch is the age-old remedy – but does it really work?

Enter Deniz Gursul from the University of Oxford. Her team monitored the brain activity of over thirty babies during blood tests. They measured electrical brain activities, looking for signs of pain sensation. Half of the newborns were stroked gently with a soft brush before the blood test. The others were not.

How did the babies feel? According to their brain signals, both infant groups experienced tremendous pain while getting blood drawn. However, babies who were gently stroked beforehand felt forty percent LESS pain!

The team also discovered that stroking SPEED matters when comforting a baby. Slower is better. One inch per second is the golden touch! This rate triggers a set of sensory neurons in the skin that comforts us.

So when baby has a boo-boo, the researchers suggest slow, gentle touches to help reduce the pain.

Now, how to reduce MY pain – when baby keeps me up all night!