Kangaroo care is the practice of holding your diapered baby on your bare chest (if you’re the father) or between your breasts (if you’re the mother), with a blanket draped over your baby’s back. Skin to skin contact benefits both you and your baby.
You may be a little nervous about trying kangaroo care. If your baby is very small or sick, you may be afraid you’ll hurt him. But you won’t.
Your baby knows your scent, touch, and the rhythms of your speech and breathing, and he’ll enjoy feeling that closeness with you. Kangaroo care gives something special to your baby that only you can provide. Kangaroo care can help your baby:
- Maintain his body warmth.
- Regulate his heart and breathing rates.
- Gain weight.
- Spend more time in deep sleep.
- Spend more time being quiet and alert and less time crying.
- Have a better chance of successful breastfeeding. (Kangaroo care can also improve a mother’s breast milk production.)
Kangaroo care has emotional benefits for you, too. It builds your confidence and reduces your stress as you provide intimate care that can improve your baby’s health and well-being.
By holding your baby directly against your skin, you’ll feel the experience of new parenthood and closeness to your baby. Kangaroo care is healing in many ways – for both you and your baby.
Ask the staff in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) about its policy on kangaroo care. Some NICUs postpone kangaroo care until an infant is medically stable, while others allow it immediately.