Sunday, March 3, 2013

Loving Mommies

Terrycloth vs. Wire?  Does that ring a bell for any psych majors out there?

The famous psychologist, Harry Harlow, conducted a study back in the 1930's to test his belief that a mother is more than just a food and thirst provider.  So he did a study where he took some young rhesus monkeys, and gave them a choice between two different "mothers." One was made of soft terrycloth, but provided no food. The other was made of wire, but provided food from an attached baby bottle.  Harlow removed young monkeys from their natural mothers a few hours after birth and left them to be "raised" by these mother surrogates. The experiment demonstrated that the baby monkeys spent significantly more time with their cloth mother than with their wire mother.  That they preferred the soft cuddly contact of a mom, than just food.

I remember studying the videos of those cute little monkeys clinging to their soft mommies while straining over to get some milk from the wired mom, then quickly going back to their cuddly mommy. It was so cute to watch!

My 9 month old has hit the separation anxiety phase, and wakes up in the middle of the night a few times.  So at 2am, as I am holding her and rocking her, I think back to this Harlow study.  Sometimes I nurse her back to sleep, because it's much easier to hold her for 5 minutes and nurse and put back to sleep, than have her cry it out like my doctor recommends.  Yes, she may not need to eat anymore at this age at night, but she is my little monkey and needs that affection.

Wouldn't you feel a little scared if you were only in this world for 9 months and then woke up in darkness?  Yes, we did try a little Ferber back at 7 months but it didn't work so well, she still cries every time I put her in her bed, poor thing.  I think we just have one tough cookie on our hands.

Maybe I am to blame since I am an overboard cuddler and hugger.  My toddler won "Hugger of the Year" last year at her preschool if that tells you anything :)  I am hoping though that my little babe will start to transition her night hugs to daytime hugs, because she is just super active during the day now and I wish she would stop and hug on me some more.

So whenever my baby is crying, whether it's during the day because her sister took a toy away, or at night, I think back to this study and just cuddle, cuddle, cuddle that chubby little babe.


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