Kangaroo Care

19 Oct 2022

What is Kangaroo Care?

Kangaroo care or skin-to-skin care is simply holding your baby on your chest to have skin-to-skin contact and to promote emotional contact (bonding). It is a natural, effective, and low-cost intervention that can be utilised in any setting. There is strong evidence of its numerous benefits, including physiological, behavioural, and pain-relief for full term and preterm newborns, as well as reduced stress and improved self-confidence in parents.

Why is it important for premature babies?

Kangaroo Care has multiple benefits for both babies and parents. Babies who have Kangaroo Care are more likely to be able to:

  • maintain a healthy body temperature
  • gain weigh more rapidly
  • have more successful breastfeeding
  • have an improved breathing pattern and heart rate while receiving Kangaroo Care
  • have a decreased likelihood of infection or severe illness. 

The skin-to-skin contact between babies and parents can also help with sleep regulation, and neurodevelopment helping babies born prematurely to reach the same developmental milestones as those born full term.

Why is it important for parents?

Kangaroo Care is a special experience with multiple benefits for the parents and the baby. Studies show an increased emotional attachment develops between baby and parents. The skin contact builds feelings of closeness and confidence, especially for new parents or parents of premature babies who may need to spend long periods in a humidicrib. Kangaroo care has also been shown to increase milk flow for mothers and to reduce parental anxiety.

How & when is Kangaroo Care done?

The person giving Kangaroo care sits upright (in a recliner) with their chest bare. The baby is placed onto the chest with only a nappy on, allowing skin-to-skin contact. A blanket can be placed over the baby to keep them warm as they snuggle into the chest.  Kangaroo Care can be done for as long as baby can tolerate it, but most studies recommend at least one hour per day up to several hours.

Leaving the protection of the humidicrib may require too much energy for your baby in the  fi­rst few days after birth. In this case, you may be able to have contact with your baby by gently placing your hands on her body, and by giving her your fi­nger to hold.

Kangaroo Care can occur after a few days or a week after birth … the time varies for each baby. It will be suggested as an option for you by nursing staff as soon as a baby is able to leave the humidicrib without problems. You may not have to wait at all. Baby will be carefully monitored during the kangaroo care.

For more information please see below 

Understanding Kangaroo Care and its benefits to preterm infants

Touching and holding your baby in the NICU

If you have had a premature baby and need support, please see below

Preterm Infants Parents Association

Life's Little Treasures

Miracle Babies Foundation

This information has been reviewed by Neonatologist, Dr John Smyth.

Disclaimer: This information by Running for Premature Babies Foundation is educational and informative in nature and is not medical advice or a healthcare recommendation. For further information, please Contact Us.