Just holding your baby when he is upset or stroking her hand when she is crying helps calm your child. Infant massage can bring many rewards to you and your baby.

Research shows that good touch can decrease levels of stress hormones found in our blood. This benefit is found in you, the giver, and her or him, the receiver.

Massage promotes bonding and one-on-one time with your child. The feel-good hormone our body produces during labor and breastfeeding (oxytocin) is also experienced with caring touch. This works when dad does it, too.

Touch is our most basic form of communication. When your child cries and then receives attention to her needs, she will be more secure and confident that she is safe.

Massaging your little one will give you time to unwind. Giving her loving touch helps her to sleep deeper and longer which will give you more time to catch a snooze too!

Massaging your baby helps you bond, relax and enjoy each other! There are many reasons to reach out and touch her. It is important to include this on a regular basis as a loving parenting skill.

Hugs fit into the same category. Make sure they are a regular part of the ways you express yourself to your child.

Let your child see you hugging your partner. Your child is learning how to express love for another person when he or she sees you truly enjoying time you set aside to spend with your partner. You are teaching your child about love.

Only after your child knows about love can he or she learn about closeness and intimacy.

You are building a foundation for your child to become a responsible adult and an excellent parent and it all begins with touch, hugs, and watching adults who love each other.

You have an important role to play in laying the foundation for your child to have a healthy and happy life. It is one more of the many lessons parents are able to teach their children through the many things they do each day.

Cynthia Martin is the founder of the First Teacher program and former executive director of Parenting Matters Foundation, which publishes newsletters for parents, caregivers and grandparents. For more information, email to [email protected] or call 360-681-2250.