Cuddled Kenyan babies are happier

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soothe-crying-baby-08-722x406Kenyan parents have been advised to cuddle their children when they are young so that they grow up to be healthier and happier this is according to a research by psychologist Darcia Narvaez from the University of Notre Dame in the US.

The research could put an end to the debate on whether cuddling children whenever they cry spoils them or letting them cry it out makes them “baby independent”.

“It is impossible to spoil a baby, by letting them cry it will actually ruin their development,” said Dr, Narvaez. “Parents who cuddle, are affectionate and playful toward their children, they grow up to be healthier, happier and more productive adults,” said Narvaez.

For young mother Jecinta Njeri, she is on the right track. “I sometimes worry that I cuddle my baby too much,” the 24 year old mother of a three month baby said. “If he as so much yawns during his sleep, I take him out of his crib and cuddle him back to sleep, My mother-in-law keeps warning me that it will be impossible for me to go back to work because he will get so used to me that he will start crying if anyone else other than me holds him when he cries.”


The research included a survey of more than 600 adults with the team asking questions about their childhood experiences, such as; how affectionate were their parents, how much free play they had with them and what was family togetherness was like.

What she found was that the adults who had positive childhood experiences evolved into adults with less anxiety and better mental health.

"These things independently, but also added up together, predicted the adults' mental health, so they were less depressed, less anxious, and their social capacities were more able to take other people's perspective. They were better at getting along with others and being open-hearted," she said.

“Parents should hold, touch and rock their babies and be responsive to their needs,” said Narvaez. "What parents do in those early months and years will affect the way the baby’s brain is going to grow the rest of their lives. If you let them cry a lot, those systems are going to be easily triggered into stress. People that are not cared for well when they were babies tend to be more stress reactive and they have a hard time self calming."

Despite the research encouraging cuddling, every parenting style is different. “I did not cuddle my children when they were babies and they are very happy,” said Margaret Aduk, a mother of four. “Cuddling them every time they cry when they are babies will be your job even when they grow up and in their 30s.”

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