I have been exploring touch over the last few days. One of my aha's is that while we think we are so modern, we are primates. We may have been homo sapiens for 40,000 years and we may have been "civilized" for 4,000 years but we have been primates for 4 million years. How important is touch to primates? Harlow's famous experiment some monkeys were given a wire mummy. The others a cloth fuzzy mummy. The wire monkey had food the cloth fuzzy monkey did not. The babies huddled with the cloth monkey. Grooming is at the heart of the social welfare of primates. Robin Dunbar's thesis is that language itself arose from grooming. Gossip is in effect long distance grooming.
Yet we are so frightened of creating dependency and maybe also of the sexual aspects of touch that most of us hardly touch our babies much when compared to primates and to most traditional human societies. Car seats, strollers, cribs and playpens are now the essential kit that we have as parents.
Our babies are in effect born six months premature. Our brain is so big that if we went to term, women would have such wide hips that they could not walk. Only marsupials, who have nice pouches, have more helpless infants than humans. I was brought up the traditional way and we brought our kids up the same. We were taken at the moment of birth and "cleaned up" by the doctors and nurses. Then whisked away to the nursery. We were presented to our mothers on schedule for feeding. At home the separation continued. I still recall biting my hand as we heard Hope cry for us from her room.
What I have been reading recently, The Continuum Concept, The Vital Touch and What's Going On In There - (links in the books section on the left) is quite clear. Babies need as much touch as possible in the first 6 months of life. I will be reviewing these books in detail in the next few days.
Bottom line if we fill the touch need of an infant, she will be quite independent. It's a paradox that I see so clearly in our two dogs. Jay was abandoned as a puppy and spent 4 months in the pound. He is by my feet as I type this. He cannot stay away. Mildred was raised with her mummy and then moved off with her litter mates and then into our bed and into the bed of her foster mum Ann while we away. She is the most independent dog out. Always on her own and not "needing"