How to Kangaroo Care with Your Baby :: Nationwide Children's Hospital

How to Kangaroo Care with Your Baby

Kangaroo care, also known as skin-to-skin care, is one of the best things you can do to take care of your premature infant in the NICU.

Research shows that performing kangaroo care, or skin-to-skin care, can improve a premature infant's vitals, promote weight gain and brain development and can increase deep sleep. And, babies that kangaroo care often go home sooner than those that don't.

When a parent performs kangaroo care with his or her baby, the parent benefits, too. It increases bonding and is a great way to relax with your baby. For mothers, it decreases the risk of post-partum depression and increases breast milk production.

We encourage moms and dads to kangaroo care with their baby. Consult your NICU care team for guidance and with questions. Remember that as a parent, you are the only one who can provide care to your baby in this important way.

Video Transcript

Skin-to-skin care, also known as kangaroo care, is one of the best ways you can care for your premature infant in the NICU.

We used to take the baby away from the mom, take the baby away from the dad after they were born and keep them apart, which is the hardest thing in the world for a parent. Now, we can have the parent do the majority of the care.

Here at Nationwide Children’s, we believe that as parents, you should play an active role in the care of your baby. And kangaroo care is something that only you can do for your child.  
 
Before beginning kangaroo care, be sure you take care of all your personal needs such as using the restroom or getting a drink or something to eat. It’s important to know that any odors, such as perfume and smoke, are too strong and can be harmful to your baby.

When you’re ready, open any clothing that you have on above your waist. Your baby should be dressed in only a diaper. We want you to be very comfortable as you pick up your baby. You can be standing or sitting and the nurse will be there to help guide you.

Place your baby directly on your chest and turn his or her head to one side.  Your baby will then be covered in a warm receiving blanket. Your body temperature will also keep the baby warm. If you’d like, a nurse will bring you a mirror so that you can see your baby’s face.  You should plan to hold skin-to-skin for at least 60 minutes.

Don’t be alarmed if your baby drops his or her oxygen saturation levels or heart rate during the transfer. This is typical and will return to normal as you start to hold your baby. Kangaroo care is encouraged during feeding times, but can also occur during cares and some lab work.

And, kangaroo care is NOT just for moms. We encourage Dad to take part as well.

When we get the parent heavily involved in the care, babies do better. Parents do better. Their bonds are stronger. They do better after they’re discharged.

Research shows that kangaroo care can help improve oxygen saturation levels, control body temperature, slow down heart rate, improve weight gain, increase deep sleep and promote brain weight and development. And babies who kangaroo care often tend to go home sooner than those who don’t.

But babies aren’t the only ones who will benefit from skin-to-skin care. It increases closeness between you and your infant, and is a way to relax with your baby. For mothers, it decreases your risk of post-partum depression and increases breast milk production.

We believe that kangaroo care is a critical part of the care of these babies. This is a way that parents can actually change the medical outcomes for their child.

You may be nervous, but don’t worry. Your nurse and care team will be there to help. Relax and enjoy this special time with your baby. And remember, you are the only ones who can provide care to your baby in this very important way.

Additional Kangaroo Care Resources

Kangaroo Care Helping Hand »

Nationwide Children's Hospital
700 Children's Drive Columbus, Ohio 43205 614.722.2000