Kangaroo care has become increasingly popular for newborn infants, especially preterm or low birth weight, whereby an infant is held skin-to-skin against the chest of an adult, usually the parents. Ideally kangaroo care will begin right after birth and continue for as long as is possible, although short periods of time are also beneficial to babies and parents.
Mom and/or Dad/partner are usually wearing an over-sized shirt, large hospital gown or loose clothing exposing their chest. The nearly naked (diaper only) infant is placed directly on mother/father’s exposed chest and the shirt wrapped snugly around baby, drawing him into the parent’s chest where he settles and snuggles. Instead of a shirt, a warm blanket can be used to cover the infant(s) on parent’s chest to draw her close.
Two babies, and sometimes more, can be held at the same time on a parent’s chest with support from a nurse or the other parent. If there are tubes and wires on a baby, be sure and check with the nursing staff before going ahead with kangaroo care. It is also good for the babies to be together. Every hospital has its own policy regarding Kangaroo Care, so check with your hospital to find out what their policy is.
Benefits for Babies:
- helps stabilize heart rate and regulates breathing
- improves oxygen saturation levels
- more rapid weight gain
- helps maintain baby’s body warmth
- babies easily accessible for easier breast feeding
- helps relax and sooth babies, spends less time crying
- more alert time
- can hear heart beat, replicating womb experience
- earlier hospital discharge
- all newborns benefit from kangaroo care, not just low birth weight and/or preterm infants
Benefits for Parents
- builds confidence knowing you are offering your infants intimate care and a loving start
- early closeness to the babies promotes bonding
- baby easily accessible for breast feeding (when with mother)
- slows parents down to focus on their infants and less worry about other matters
- can offer “closure” to having Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) babies