The Vital Touch: How Intimate Contact With Your Baby Leads To Happier, Healthier Development

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Macmillan, Oct 17, 1997 - Family & Relationships - 276 pages
2 Reviews
Why do American babies rank among the least held on earth? Throughout human evolution, babies have enjoyed intimate physical contact with their mothers. In cultures around the world, parents' arms are used to comfort their babies, from holding and carrying them to rocking them to sleep. In this probing and insightful book, psychologist Sharon Heller uses evolutionary psychology to examine why social pressures and a desire for self-sufficiency have caused Americans to distance ourselves physically from our children. Our overreliance on infant carriers, strollers, swings, and cribs as parenting substitutes often prevents us from attaining physical closeness with our children, causing increased fussiness in infants and creating conflict for the mothers. Drawing from an inspiring array of cultural and anthropological sources, The Vital Touch explores all the psychological, physiological, and sensory benefits that occur when parent and baby are in touch - and what happens when they're not - and shows us how we can provide a soothing and nurturing environment in which our children will thrive. Here is a book that affirms the value of touch as the most essential medium through which we can communicate and bond with our babies.

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This has been one of the most influential books I've read in terms of how it has affected my views on parenting. While not a parenting "how to" book, per se, the concepts explored by the author will dramatically effect how you view your baby's needs and how you approach your role as a parent.
American culture has deluged us with the ideas that infants need to be pushed into early "independence", kept in separate beds and usually separate rooms from their parents, and that we need a house filled with plastic containers to hold, entertain, and comfort our babies. Yet all they really need is to be close to their mother, carried next to her body, sleeping close by, learning about the world from the vantage point of her arms.
Hopefully this book will go a long way in changing the out-of-touch parenting philosophies rampant in our culture today. I cannot recommend this book more highly. Even if you don't agree with everything she says, I believe just understanding the way babies and mothers are made to interact together will be very impactful. Although the author views this from an evolutionary standpoint, as a Christian I believe her conclusions are correct even if I would disagree on the means.
If I had to recommend one book to every new parent (and experienced parents as well) it would be "The Vital Touch."

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This is a revolutionary book which should be read by every new parent. What a difference it would make! Read full review

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About the author (1997)

Sharon Heller is the author of The Vital Touch.

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