Dia Ingalls is a midwife and birthing coach with over 20 years of experience. She founded Colorado Midwifery and has facilitated over 50 home births as a midwife, and hundreds more through her work as a DONA certified doula and midwifery training. She has a lot of wisdom to share with new parents, especially about the importance of early attachment and the benefits of skin-to-skin contact.
Dia explained that a newborn's nervous system takes months to transition from the womb to the outside world, even up to a year, and one way that parents can help their baby adjust is by being held and through skin-to-skin contact.
“Babies aren’t programmed to be cold and alone because they can’t take care of themselves, but if they are warm and held then they are better able to thrive.”
She shared that many parents worry about holding their baby too much and about not fostering independence by responding to their every need. If this is one of your concerns, take a sigh of relief! Babies need and want to be held. They are programmed to crave contact, warmth, and the safety of their guardian’s arms. This close contact helps them adapt and develop.
“If more people had the understanding that close contact with babies sets the stage for proper neurological development, then I think parents would be less concerned about whether they were spoiling their baby more concerned about meeting their needs. If babies get their neurological needs met they won’t have unnecessary added stress.”
Our culture has a tendency to associate strength with independence, and many parents believe that babies need to learn to self-soothe or they will be too needy. However, babies don’t cry to trick their parents into giving them attention, they cry when they are hungry, tired, gassy, hot, cold, sick, or have other needs that are not being met.
“Think about it from an evolutionary standpoint; a baby can’t take care of itself. So if you leave it alone, it will want to seek out contact. The way it will do that is through crying. That is the only communication pathway the baby has. Infants can’t be manipulative.”
Dia also discussed the polarization in our society in terms of parenting styles that are recommended. There is the “attachment” style of parenting, and the “cry it out” style of parenting. But instead of feeling pressured to give in to one side or another, or to do whatever your great aunt insists you do, trust your instincts and your own research.
“When people are informed on options they are able to choose what is best and safest for their family. Take all of the information, look at it, and understand why it’s recommended or not recommended, and make the best decision that’s appropriate for your family. Finding good, powerful and trusted resources to look into is a huge part of the parenting process.”
Dia also has some GREAT news. More cuddling, snuggling, and skin-to-skin contact actually helps babies sleep better. That’s right!
“Newborn babies don’t have a circadian rhythm. They don’t understand day and night. Our ability to help regulate babies' nervous systems through close contact will help them determine night from day and ultimately help them sleep.”
Go ahead, snuggle your baby, hold them while they sleep, and respond to their cries. You aren’t spoiling them; you are giving them the love they need so they can focus on growing, learning, and thriving. To make skin-to-skin contact more accessible, pick up a bundle or two of Bonsie Skin to Skin Babywear. It’s the first and only baby clothing designed specifically to help you get closer to your baby.