Papatzoa: The art of caressing your child's soul

Papatzoa: The art of caressing your child's soul
Valeria Sabater

Reviewed and approved by the psychologist Valeria Sabater.

Written by Valeria Sabater

Last update: 22 December, 2021

Papatzoa is a beautiful word that comes from the ancient Nahuatl language of Mexico. The language is thousands of years old, but the verb has been adapted into modern day Spanish as apapachar. 

There is no exact equivalent in the English language for the tender meaning of this word. The closest translations might be to pamper, coddle or snuggle. But the true meaning of Papatzoa is to provide affection and caress a person’s soul.

Although the idea of the soul has been discarded and criticized by a great part of the scientific community, its cultural and spiritual value is still very present among us. In fact, the world renowned psychoanalyst Carl Gustav Jung made reference to the soul.

Know all the theories, master all the techniques, but as you touch a human soul be just another human soul

-Carl Gustav Jung-

Whether you believe in the existence of the human soul or not, you can still value its symbolic representation. A person’s soul is where care and affection are found.

The soul is a person’s essence and should be cared for and valued in order to give light to the people we truly love.

Therefore, one of our most lovely responsibilities as mothers and fathers is to favor an early connection with our child. Our love needs to penetrate our baby’s skin and reach into her roots, her essence… her soul.

Papatzoa is much more than hugging

the meaning of Papatzoa - caressing a child's soul

Some say that nothing is sweeter than a hug. But papatzoa is so much more than that. It means lending support and love in a much more profound and intimate way.

Papatzoa means  caressing and validating one’s emotions, strengthening the bond. It means expressing affection with a glance or just your presence and assuring the other person that he will never be abandoned. It’s knowing that the other person is always with us, loves us, values us, and holds us in their heart.

You will grow up on my lap so that I can cradle your body, your heart and your soul

The principles of attachment parenting validate the concept behind the word papatzoa.  This ancient word can also be translated as “to knead with care.” In other words, using your loving touch to caress a person’s heart and connect with their most inner being.

Each time you nurse your child, you are practicing  papatzoa. Few actions better represent the art of reaching our child’s soul than breastfeeding.

Breastfeeding doesn’t just provide nourishment for your baby’s body. When you cuddle your child and look into her eyes as you nurse her, you are caressing her soul.

Attachment parenting tells us that the time we have to hold our child in our arms is very short. However, the memory of the love your child feels, and the feeling of knowing you are available, will stay with him all his life. 

Snuggling your baby every opportunity you get is one of the most worthwhile investments you can make. It means providing constant and authentic care and affection, and it will be sure to have a good turnaround in the future.

Papatzoa: Sewing positive emotions in our children’s hearts

the meaning of Papatzoa

Few things are so vital in making a baby feel loved and protected. Babies don’t just need enough hours of sleep, and someone to rock them when they cry and take care of their needs.

What a baby needs to grow in happiness and maturity is real, authentic love – love that is shown, felt, and that can be touched and breathed in.

I caress your soul to fill you with emotions

The principle behind the word papatzoa is vital and should be practiced daily in order to favor your child’s neural connections.  Papatzoa is a way to guide your child and create lifelong bonds.

If this ancient Nahuatl word has survived so many thousands of years and has become part of the Spanish language around the world, it’s because of its immense importance. 

The art of papatzoa has transcendent value for us as human beings who need positive emotions in order to grow, to have a sense of belonging, and even to survive.

Papatzoa is untying a person from fear, taking away their insecurities, and removing sadness and anxiety from their heart.

So don’t hold back; practice the art of papatzoa with the people you love – especially your children. Embrace your children‘s souls and give the world strong people who see love as their reason for living.


All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.