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Baby It's Cold Outside

January 22, 2013 - Jen Zbozny
According to Eve, cold weather is cuddle weather. I tend to agree. When it's cold I want to snuggle up on the couch or in bed and watch movies or read books and feel warm and safely bundled up in soft layers with someone snuggled up next to me. It makes me think about how babies need physical affection.

Babies are born in need of cuddling. Leaving their toasty cocoon, they arrive, wet, into an atmosphere which is most likely at least 20 degrees colder than where they were. That's a shock for sure. Add to that they can't walk. In fact their limbs are kind of a mystery to them. The thing they need most is sort of like first aid and Maslov's hierarchy of needs put together. Apply warmth and gentle pressure, provide food. That's also our most natural response to tiny babies. We wrap them snuggly and hold them close.

 It is actually well-reported that babies seem calmer when you swaddle them. It seems wrapping them up keeps them warm and keeps their limbs from flailing about in disturbing ways that might let cool air in on them somewhere. No one wants rushes of cold air up the back of his shirt. Ugh. 

Babies don't walk until almost a year old. In order to travel, they must be carried or held in some way. Since they're babies, it's not the best plan to leave them alone - lest the species perish. That means they need to be carried and they need to be near people who look out for them. It seems like a built in set up to provide babies with at least a good full year of cuddling. It keeps them safe, and warm, and makes their needs, behavior and development pretty easy for mothers or family to observe. Think about it. If you hold and carry and keep close a little tiny being pretty much all day every day for the better part of its first year, you'll become intensely familiar with what makes him happy, or when he's hungry or if something isn't right.

It also gives him a nice comfy way to begin gradually peeking out at the giant and unfamiliar universe. That's a good deal. 

Flash forward. There's a natural progression when babies can move on their own. They can separate, and it seems as though they have less direct need for physical contact. But I don't think the need decreases. I think it stays with us our whole lives. 

I think being held and cuddled up and warm (if we've been raised in appropriately affectionate, responsible homes & families) in some way still makes us feel content, protected, safe, loved even.  I think cold weather naturally, instinctively, brings that need back to us -even as grown ups. 

That may explain why on a day like today when the temperature reached a stark 6 degrees in places, even if we don't have others near to hold us close, we like to pile up the blankets or curl into a sleeping bag. It makes us feel tucked in, surrounded, safe, and warm.

It's the acceptable grown up version of that same gentle pressure and warmth we needed as babies. 

Cuddle up everyone, it's going to be cold!


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