We know that babies need love to thrive. Babies need love to learn as well.
According to science, the brain needs hugs to develop. This is because a baby who feels secure and safe in the envelope of his parents’ love is free to divert attention away from the business of survival to focus fully on learning. It is a little like Maslov’s hierarchy of needs:
If a baby has to constantly monitor his environment to determine if he is in or out of danger, he cannot focus on learning new things. Parents who provide bonding and attachment to their babies help their babies form a sense of trust, developing the limbic system which is responsible for the formation of emotional relationships. The limbic system is also responsible for alerting other brain functions of threats to self. Parents who are responsive to their babies help to soothe fear, discomfort, sadness and other negative emotions that interfere with their babies’ ability to learn.
In order of a baby to feel secure and loved, he needs a consistent pattern of responsiveness from his primary caregiver to cement the expectation that all his needs will be attended to. These positive emotions have a demonstrable effect on the brain – emotion allows baby to pay attention and attention promotes learning. How secure a baby feels affects:
- intellectual potential
- language development
- regulation of feelings/self-control
- development of empathy, trust, and motivation
- acquisition of conscience, identity, self-confidence, and self-esteem
- ability to cope with stress and bounce back from setbacks
- ability to make and sustain future relationships – love and friendship