Monday, June 13, 2011

Go Ahead, Lick Your Baby!

While reading The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding, 8th Edition I stumbled upon a fascinating idea. To improve the mother-child bond and to help start off the breastfeeding relationship, the book suggests licking your baby.
I know what most of you are thinking “Ok, now Vivien has completely lost her mind!”… Just bear with me for a few minutes and I will try to explain.
As we all know, one of the first things mammals do when their babies are born is to clean them by licking them. They not only do this to get them fresh, it is a very complex process that mixes the mother’s and baby’s scents, thereby creating a bond, while stimulating the baby’s entire nervous system, improving breathing, digestion, etc.
We humans are lucky enough to not have to actually clean our offspring in such a way anymore. I don’t know how you feel, but neither of my babies looked very delicious right after they were born. (No, I’m not referring to my babies themselves, but rather the coating they had on them) However, there are theories out there that view this removal from our primal instincts in a negative light, claiming that an essential part is missing in the bonding process.
In today’s society, a very large number of babies is born with medical interventions, including c-sections and epidurals. One of the problems associated with these interventions is the mother’s removal from the birthing process. It has been widely reported that mothers who did not feel their babies leave their bodies had difficulties emotionally bonding with their babies. Mothers know that the babies are theirs, but lack the sense of attachment that they feel they should have.
I remember after my daughter was born I felt almost underwhelmed emotionally. I looked at her, and loved and adored her, but couldn’t really fathom that she belonged to me. It took us a long time to really bond, especially since our breastfeeding relationship got off to a rocky start.
To counteract this sense of detachment it has been suggested that returning to an act so primal as licking your child will greatly improve the bond between mother and child.
So, dear mothers, why not give it a go? I read the story of a mother whose daughter was over a year old when she licked her- she felt that it immediately improved their bond. If you feel as though your bond could be a little bit stronger, just try it out. What’s the worst that could happen?


  1. Does it count if you lick them to get stuff off their face?

  2. Yes, it sure does! I actually read of quite a few moms who do that :-)

  3. makes total sense in my head, and I actually have licked Noweo to clean off her face, and I'd say I fall into the category of attachment parenting, but this...this is something I've never heard of before and need to wrap my mind around. maybe i'll give it a try with the next one :)

  4. I know this post is kinda old, but since my baby was born I have had a mother instict to lick her. I too had a c-section and felt like I didn't have a close bond with her, so I asked God to guide me to be the best mother I could be to this child and to teach me what I didn't know through my consiounce. I strongly felt that licking her would bond us more and it sure did! :)

  5. This is crazy bc I had a c section and came to this thread through Google bc I needed more info on this instinctual desire to lick my baby. Like she gets milk on her face and in her hair and something in me wants to clean her that way but then I'm like "this is crazy" lol a bit taboo maybe in modern culture. So great info. Might actually give it a try now

  6. I heard it's an instinct evolved to expose the mother to any pathogens so she can then make and pass on the immune cells in her milk. Either way, I've licked both my babies soon after birth almost without thinking

  7. Thanks for this it was very helpful. Im a fairly primal person, when i had my first child i wanted to lick her. I was so sad when they took her away from me to clean her. I was afraid to ask for her back, but i did realize they kept her away for a few minutes from me because there was a complication. It was hard to not be able to hold her straight away, but at least she was okay. Shes 3 now and i love her so much.