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Babies Need the Essential Vitamin L to Thrive

Updated on July 13, 2011

When my son was born, many well-intentioned relatives would warn me not to carry him too much or he would get spoilt and expect to be carried all the time. A first time mother who didn't know any better, I heeded that advice and encouraged my son to lie on his own for as much as possible. My son, however, had other ideas. He would be rather vocal when it came to being picked up and held.

The more I tried to discourage him from being carried, the more he wanted to be carried. I found he slept better when he co-slept (and so did I), and he was less fussy when I carried him. Eventually, I ignored all the warnings not to carry him and just did what seemed to work best - that was, to carry him. After all, babies eventually grow up and no longer want to be carried or held so it is best for a mother to enjoy this stage while she can.

I'm also glad that I did because I came across a very interesting study which I read about from “The Complete Secrets of Happy Children“ by Steve Biddulph:

At the end of World War II, there were a lot of orphans who needed care. A Swiss doctor travelled around to learn what were the best methods for taking care of orphaned babies. He travelled around Europe and examined all the different styles of orphan-care to determine which was the most successful style. He witnessed a large spectrum of infant care.

In some places where American field hospitals had been set up, babies were snug in stainless steel cots, in hygienic wards and getting 24-hour feeds of special infant milk formula from nurses in crisply starched, white uniform.

At the other end of the spectrum were the remote mountain villages where a truck would pull up and ask the villagers if they could look after half a dozen babies. These babies were raised in the arms of the village women, surrounded by children, goats and dogs. They were fed goat’s milk and eventually ate from the communal stockpot.

The doctor’s method of comparing the different forms of care was by using the death rate. This was a time where dysentery and influenza took lives of many throughout Europe, yet the children raised in the villages were thriving better than those children who were cared for in the scientifically-managed hospitals.

The conclusion was clear. Babies needed an extra vitamin to thrive - vitamin L for “love”. In other words:

  • infants need frequent skin-to-skin contact from two or three significant people
  • infants need movement of a fairly robust kind, e.g. being carried around, bouncing on a knee, etc.
  • infants need eye-contact, smiling, colourful and lively environment, and sounds, such as singing, talking, etc.

Babies need to be touched, they need to be picked up, held and carried. Far from spoiling their babies by carrying them too much, mothers NEED to provide as much physical contact for their babies as possible to help them thrive.

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