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Does Skin-to-Skin Contact Improve Sleep?

There are many reasons babies prefer to sleep in the arms of their loved ones. They feel safer, more comfortable, your scent and the sound of your voice is familiar, and they actually achieve deeper and more restful sleep during contact naps, especially while skin-to-skin.


Quality sleep is essential for babies because their brain is growing so rapidly. According to Sanford Health, babies spend an “increased time in the very important deep sleep and quiet alert states” when they practice skin-to-skin contact. Because deep sleep is crucial for healthy development, letting your baby sleep on your chest, skin-to-skin, is an excellent way to spend your afternoon.


Baby sleeps on her mom’s chest, skin-to-skin.
Baby sleeps on her mom’s chest, skin-to-skin.

A study conducted by the Library of Medicine explored infant sleep and brain development. Their findings state that,


“skin-to-skin contact improves sleep-wake cycling, which may indicate accelerated brain maturation in both preterm and [full]term infants” (Allen, 2012).

Bonsie asked Rachel Mitchell, a certified Pediatric and Maternity Sleep Consultant, mom of seven, and founder of My Sweet Sleeper about the connection between sleep and skin-to-skin contact.


“In early infancy and beyond, skin-to-skin provides many benefits from calming a baby's nervous system, regulating their temperature, and helping them prepare for sleep, to name a few. Babies are designed to co-regulate, which means they rely on their parents and caregivers to help them prepare for rest and to regulate when they are escalated. Babywearing, holding, and nursing are all great ways to provide the type of comfort needed to babies during and outside of sleep periods. We love that Bonsie promotes skin-to-skin contact and makes it easier to achieve this while also promoting healthy sleep,” Rachel said.



Skin-to-skin contact is great for your baby any time of the day, but it’s particularly beneficial for their sleep pattern when your baby is calm and ready for a nap. After bath time, before it’s time to feed, or right before their next nap are great times to get skin-to-skin. Oftentimes, babies will want to nurse when held skin-to-skin, and then they will happily drift to sleep. Try to keep your baby nestled against your chest for an hour or longer to go through a full sleep cycle.


Rebecca Michi, children's sleep consultant, echoes this advice: “Skin to skin contact is one of Mother Nature’s most powerful weapons…Now here’s the most amazing part:"


"research has shown that babies (and parents) are not only happier when they engage in skin to skin sessions, but that the act can also help babies to sleep better.”

Skin-to-skin contact is also beneficial for moms and dads because it promotes the release of oxytocin, the feel good hormone, which helps you to relax and bond with your baby. So, while they’re snoozing, your stress levels will also decrease.


In case you need more examples of why skin-to-skin contact is so important, here’s our roundup. Skin-to-skin contact:

  • Regulates your baby’s temperature heart rate, and breathing patterns

  • Improves breastfeeding success by increasing mom’s milk supply, forming a stronger bond between mom and baby, and boosting the release of oxytocin

  • Helps baby absorb and digest nutrients

  • Decreases stress for you and your baby

  • Improves your baby’s weight gain and growth

  • Improves brain development and parental attachment, which has long-term benefits into adulthood

  • Helps your baby conserve energy so they can focus on learning instead of surviving

  • Fosters empathy and strengthens positive relationships


All of these incredible benefits work together to improve your baby’s quality of sleep. This means longer naps, more peaceful sleep at night, and less crying.


Brew a cup of tea, grab a good book, and snuggle with your little one, skin-to-skin. You can rest easy knowing that you are helping your baby rest easy.


Photo of our new baby sleep bag, the Cuddle Sack in Mocha. Mom is opening the front of this sleep sack to show how easy it is for skin to skin access
Our new baby sleep bag, the Cuddle Sack.

Speaking of sleep, have you seen our new Cuddle Sack?? Our Cuddle Sack combines the ease of skin-to-skin contact with cuddly, warm sleep. It features soft, breathable fabric, a 2.1 TOG rating, and is designed to work perfectly with our footies, rompers, and baby bag sets,





Sources:


Allen K. A. (2012). Promoting and protecting infant sleep. Advances in neonatal care : official journal of the National Association of Neonatal Nurses, 12(5), 288–291. https://doi.org/10.1097/ANC.0b013e3182653899


Michi, R. (2022, January 9). How Skin to Skin Can Improve Baby Sleep. Children's Sleep Consultant. https://childrenssleepconsultant.com/the-beauty-of-skin-to-skin/


Seitz, J. L. (2018, August 9). The Importance of Skin-to-Skin with Baby After Delivery. Sanford Health News. https://news.sanfordhealth.org/childrens/the-importance-of-skin-to-skin-after-delivery-you-should-know/


Read & Save 25% - Use code SLEEP site-wide right now! Offer ends 12/07/2023 at 11:59PM EST


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