Kangaroo Care is a method of contact for parents and their new baby, skin-to-skin that enhances the bonding process. Parents hold their infant on their chest, skin to skin in a relaxed and calm atmosphere. Kangaroo Care is important for all newborns, but especially important whenever possible for premature infants, helping vital development. Some of the benefits of Kangaroo Care include:
- Improved attachment between baby and parents
- Promotion of longer and deeper sleep cycles for the infant
- Promotion of breast milk production in the mother and successful breast feeding for mother and baby
- Improved infant digestion
- A calming and relaxing experience for parents and baby
Before beginning Kangaroo Care, parents confirm with their NICU nurse to verify that the baby meets the medical criteria to participate. The nurse and parents then create a schedule for Kangaroo Care, coordinated around baby's daily care routine.
Kangaroo Care occurs at the bedside, behind a privacy screen to make this a quiet and private time for parents and baby. The parent sits in a comfortable chair with their blouse/shirt opening at the front. Your baby is undressed, except for a diaper and perhaps a cap, and placed on the parent's chest. Blankets are placed over the baby to create a supportive pouch or "kangaroo-type" position of comfort in your arms.
Kangaroo Care typically lasts for a minimum of 30 minutes, and preferably for an hour or more. If a parent thinks they may fall asleep during the Kangaroo Care session, the baby is placed back into his/her bed and plan for another session of Kangaroo Care. For safety reasons, parents cannot sleep while holding their baby. For an enjoyable Kangaroo Care experience, please:
- Be freshly bathed and wear clothes that open in the front.
- Avoid strong fragrances as they may mask the natural scent of breast milk, etc.
- Siblings should not be present during Kangaroo Care.
- Parents should take turns at different sessions if both are participating.
Remember, this is a calming activity for you and your baby, versus a stimulating one. Anyone with you during this activity should also promote this calming environment.