By: Josie May, Penfield Children’s Center
Kangaroo Care: What is it?
The term “Kangaroo Care,” also known as “skin-to-skin,” was created for its similarities to how kangaroos and other marsupials carry their young in their pouch. Kangaroo care, or skin-to-skin contact, provides a nurturing environment that can benefit both infant and parent. Both mothers and fathers can practice Kangaroo Care.
Kangaroo care can be started right after your baby is born, as long as all his medical and birth needs have been met. This might already be common practice in your delivery room, but if it’s not, ask your doctor or midwife to place your baby directly on your chest and gently hold him as you welcome him into the world. This creates a special bonding time for you and your baby and helps him feel safe and warm. Your baby will also be calmed by feeling and hearing your heartbeat.
Benefits of Skin-to-Skin Kangaroo Care
Benefits to Infants:
- Physiologic stability (temperature, blood pressure, heart rate and respiratory stability)
- Helps with cognitive and motor development
- Improved immune system function
- Weight gain
- Better sleep
- Greater bonding with less stress and crying
- For NICU infants; decreased length of stay, pain, and stress from the environment
Benefits to Parents:
- Helps with attachment and bonding
- Increases sensitivity and responsiveness to infant
- Greater success in breastfeeding and decreased postpartum depression
Tips for Kangaroo Care:
UnityPoint Health Neonatal Nurse Practitioner, Kellie Gebauer-Steinick suggests that if an infant is fussy, place him on your bare chest and cover him with blanket while decreasing external stimuli. This helps because naturally, infants are calmed by the sound of their mother or father’s heartbeat.
Practice safe skin-to-skin contact time by remaining awake and alert which will decrease chances of a fall and SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome).
Skin-to-skin care can continue as long as both the infant and parent are benefiting from the experience.
Have you practiced Kangaroo Care with your little one?