The power of touch is undeniable. Throughout our lives, we often use touch to display our affection or interact with others and develop relationships.
And for babies, they know the power of touch long before they're born. Through this sense of contact, newborn babies show their needs, learn about the world, and bond with their caregivers.
Touch is crucial for the development of the cognitive skills, physical abilities, and social-emotional competence of a child.
The use of incubators for premature babies is a priority in mainstream medicine. However, in the Scandinavian region of Europe, skin-to-skin contact is recommended as the best alternative for exclusive incubation of premature babies.
It's generally believed that human contact helps a delicate baby to fare better and recover more quickly than when left in complete isolation in an incubator.
And this adorable photo of a topless little boy helping his dad give a skin-to-skin touch to his premature twin siblings is melting thousands of hearts online.
The viral photo was captured at the Hvidovre Hospital in Copenhagen, Denmark, and uploaded on Facebook by the South Africa-based NINO Birth Organization.
It was captioned:
"Skin-to-skin contact is not 'new,' but Sweden indeed leads the way in making this care family-friendly, even for very tiny babies. I love this picture of big brother helping his dad care for the twins!"
Skin-to-skin (SSC) contact is highly encouraged by health experts where babies who weigh as much as 700 grams can be nursed by their parents.
It's usually performed by the mother but in some cases, she's unable to cater to the baby. That is when a preferred family member takes over.
NINO, which stands for Neuroscience for Improved Neonatal Outcomes, explains on its Facebook page :
"How your baby is born matters!!"
"Putting your newborn baby skin-to-skin on your chest-at birth makes all the difference between feeling safe or unsafe. The mother's chest is a SAFE place. Here the baby is warmed, and the heart and lungs work best. The baby can find the breast and latch on. From the breast, the baby will make eye contact with mum."
"This starts bonding, even in the first hour of life. From here, parenting comes naturally and is fun. This is important for caesareans also, and even more for fragile premature babies. This is so different from what often happens."
"Without you, your baby is stressed and anxious. The stress will make the baby's body unstable. The anxiety prevents trust and love from forming. Can a tiny newborn feel anxious and abandoned? Very much so! It is the difference that we focus on."
Dr. Ewald, a renowned Swedish Professor who's a known advocate for skin-to-skin contact, claims that SSC warms the baby more than an incubator.
It also protects the baby from infections by transmitting protective bacteria into their systems.
The Facebook post added:
"Uwe Ewald points out that the parent's chest regulates the temperature better than an incubator. Skin to skin contact helps the baby to breathe better. The child becomes calmer and gains weight faster. Research shows that parent's bacterial flora — compared with hospital bacteria — reduces the risk of serious infections in these delicate children."
Many Facebook users quickly leaped to the comments to commend the boy and the hospital for allowing him to help.
One woman wrote:
"I love this pic that big bro is involved in the care of the twins. Big bro won't feel left out but an actual part to help his parents and siblings."
"Other kids might feel left out and helpless when they can't be part of this. So my hat off to the hospital and too big bro."