A Baby’s Need for Closeness
FOR several generations, the approach to childbirth in a number of countries has been to separate the newborn baby from its mother for long periods of time. It is usually placed in a room with other babies.
However, more doctors are now saying that carefully controlled experiments show that the contact that a mother has with her child in the first hours of a baby’s life may have long-lasting beneficial effects on the baby, and on the mother too. Mothers who have more early contact with their babies seem to be more affectionate with them later and speak to them with a greater number of words and questions. It is felt that the more early attention the baby receives, the greater its emotional and intellectual development will be.
Dr. John Kennell, a pediatrician in a children’s hospital in Cleveland, states: “The earlier you put mother and child together for extended periods the more powerful the effects will be.” Some doctors now say that the separate rooms for babies in hospitals ought to be eliminated.