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Psychological Needs of a Newborn

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May 31, 2020

Newborns, just like the rest of humanity, are social beings. Therefore, the touch, hugs and physical presence of a caregiver is vital.

Contrary to popular belief, newborn babies need more than milk, sleep, diaper change and cleanliness. On the contrary, an infant is a person with feelings and a personality that needs to be acknowledged by the caregiver. Cuddling, holding, hugging, touching and smiling help the neonate's mental and emotional wellbeing.

It is crucial to maintain the psychological bond between the infant and the mother after birth. In the womb, soothing pre-natal experiences boosts the mental and emotional wellbeing of the unborn child. Newborns deprived of this connection struggle to love or receive love. Aside from physical care and comfort, babies need love and affection to be in sync with life rhythms.


Newborns, just like the rest of humanity, are social beings. Therefore, the touch, hugs and physical presence of a caregiver is vital. Apart from physical contact, they need face to face interaction and prolonged eye contact to develop their self-regulatory system. Inconsistencies in socialization weaken the neonate's self-regulatory systems.


Newborns also need intense affection to develop their mental capacities. According to Urie Bronfenbrenner's theory, children need multiple support systems. As the saying goes, it does take a village to raise a child. Bronfenbrenner also postulates that children require at least one parent to be consistently loving toward them.


Newborns need physical touch

Skin to skin contact is not only soothing for the neonate but also essential for brain development. A study found that this type of connection known as Kangaroo care increases oxytocin and reduces cortisol in both the mother and the infant. Oxytocin is the hormone responsible for feelings of love and affection.  On the other hand, cortisol is the stress hormone.


Kangaroo care affects the infant's high-order cognition skills. High order cognition involves mental processes like reasoning, decision making, and creativity. The skin to skin bonding also influences the child's ability to regulate their emotions. With it, the baby is equipped to process and express their feelings in a healthy manner.


Even the caregiver's response to the infant's needs reduces distress. The baby needs to feed, sleep, and excrete. All these functions require the intervention of a caregiver or caregivers. However, meeting the newborn's physical needs should be accompanied by love and care. The baby feels negligence, distance, distraction, and inconsistencies, which contribute to internal distress and manifest as mental issues.


According to research concerning the needs of an infant, care from a parent must be done in full recognition of the child's personality and emotions. Insensitivity and disregard of touching and holding with love will emotionally desensitize the newborn.

There will never be a day like the day your baby is born.

Caring for a newborn must be deliberate and constant

It helps the child develop their mental and emotional capacities. As a caregiver, it is your responsibility to provide as much social interaction to the child. If possible, include a trusted community to boost your child's psychological and psychosocial development.

Written by Perfect Agnes

Perfect Aggy is a Kenyan writer with over 6 years experience writing on mental health topics. She has a Masters in Psychology and a Bachelors Degree in Substance abuse counseling.

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