According to research by the University of Oxford and Liverpool John Moores University, gently stroking newborns and babies decrease their brain activity related to painful experiences. Half of the infants stroked with a soft brush beforehand showed as much as 40 percent less pain activity in their brain. "Touch seems to have analgesic potential without the risk of side-effects," said Professor Rebeccah Slater, author of the study.

Understanding the neurobiological underpinnings of techniques such as baby massage allows the experts to improve the advice they give to parents on the best ways to comfort their infants. Such a study explains the soothing power of touch-based practices like infant massage and kangaroo care. "Previous work has shown that touch may increase parental bonding, decrease stress for both the parents and the baby, and reduce the length of hospital stay," said Slater.

Picture: Baby Olivia (