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Babies may also find it stressful to be touched in isolation, outside the context of a friendly, multi-sensory interaction. In experiments on newborns, infants showed a drop in cortisol levels when they were stroked by a caregiver who rocked them, made eye contact, and spoke soothingly. But when they were stroked in silence –without rocking or eye contact – these babies experienced a cortisol surge (White-Traut et al 2009).

Stress in babies: An evidence-based guide to keeping babies calm and healthy

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