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Early years

16th Nov 2021

Stroking your baby’s head reduces how they feel physical pain by 40 per cent

Melissa Carton

As a parent I always dread my newborn getting the heel prick test.

It’s an essential test to check for rare health conditions but they’re so little, it’s hard to watch them in pain.

Most parents instinctually will try to comfort our babies during times like these by rubbing their head and according to research this action actually provides physical comfort to our children.

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A study conducted by the University of Oxford and Liverpool John Moores University, monitored the brain activity of 32 babies while they had blood tests.

Half of the babies were stroked with a soft brush beforehand and they showed 40 per cent less pain activity in their brain.

Those involved in the study believe it may also be connected to the success of skin to skin contact and baby massage for relieving stress levels in infants.

Author Rebeccah Slater, when speaking about the study published in Current Biology said;

“Touch seems to have analgesic potential without the risk of side-effects. There was evidence to suggest that C-tactile afferents can be activated in babies and that slow, gentle touch can evoke changes in brain activity in infants.”

As a parent, we always strive to be able to protect our children from harm as much as possible and it’s good to know that something as simple as touch can bring them so much comfort.