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Your loving touch
Kangaroo Care is a special way of holding your baby, skin-to-skin, that is beneficial to both baby and parents. The name reflects the way a mother kangaroo holds her baby in her pouch. Kangaroo Care provides special bonding time and can help your baby thrive. Even very small or sick babies can benefit from Kangaroo Care. If you would like to provide this type of touch, the nurse will work with you to find the best time and show you how to position your baby. You will receive all the support you need to hold your baby safely and nurses will be close by if you need assistance.
What are the benefits of Kangaroo Care for my baby?
- Helps keep heart rate, breathing and temperature stable
- Mother’s skin can warm baby two times faster than an incubator (no studies yet with fathers)
- Oxygen in the blood is often improved and steady
- Breathing pauses (apnea) are decreased by up to four times
- Calms babies – so less crying, more security, less stress
- Improves sleep
- Less risk of bleeding into the premature brain from delicate blood vessels
- Better emotional development
- Sensations help brain develop through sensory experiences that include smell, taste, touch, hearing and movement
- The infant is upright and tucked, similar to being in the womb, which helps the spine learn to balance while increasing muscle tone
- Skin-to-skin contact naturally leads to breastfeeding, which can usually start sooner
- Feeding tolerance is improved
- Age-specific breast milk is produced for the baby
- Faster weight gain
- Babies go home earlier; smaller babies are discharged up to 50% sooner
- Strengthens immune system so babies have fewer infections
Providing Kangaroo Care to your baby
Kangaroo Care improves interaction and milk supply and provides better bonding. You’ll pick up on your baby’s cues or signs while boosting your confidence as a parent. Additionally, parents are calmer and have less depression when coping with a baby in the NICU.
Our health care team will work with you to determine when your baby would be ready for Kangaroo Care. You can provide it as soon as your baby is ready to be moved from the bed – even if your baby has monitors, IVs or breathing tubes from the nose or mouth attached. Wear a loose, open-front shirt big enough for your baby to be placed onto your chest and then covered with a blanket or cloth. Babies should be held for a minimum of 60-90 minutes during skin-to-skin, but they may be held for up to 3-4 hours if they are stable. Make sure to avoid wearing perfume or strong soap so your baby can smell you and your breast/breast milk.
While sleeping, your baby's airway tube(s) must be secured and body fully supported on your chest. Handle your baby gently by folding its legs and arms with hands close to the mouth. A firm, still touch is best, especially if your baby is premature. Watch for signs of overstimulation, such as yawning, sneezing, squirming or frowning; if you see these signs, decrease stimulation by holding quietly without talking, singing or rocking.
A good time to start skin-to-skin is before, during (30 minutes) and after (1 hour) a tube feeding. If your baby has an endotracheal tube and tries to turn its head, gently hold your baby still and call the nurse for assistance. Twins may be held by one or both parents if they are without infection.
If your baby cannot participate in Kangaroo Care, we’ll work with you to find other ways to provide comfort.
Our nurses will be nearby to help you with positioning, placing your baby back in bed and to answer questions. Please let your nurse know if you want to hold your baby skin-to-skin; we will be glad to help.