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Skin-to-Skin Contact: How Kangaroo Care Benefits Your Baby

About Skin-to-Skin Care About Skin-to-Skin Care

As soon as you are able to hold your newborn, especially if they were born early, consider some skin-to-skin snuggling.

This type of skin-to-skin contact, also called kangaroo care, benefits both you and your baby. It can promote bonding and the release of feel-good hormones, for example. It can also help regulate your baby's body temperature and heart rate.

What is kangaroo care?

Kangaroo care was developed in South America as a way to keep premature infants warm. Mothers were instructed to hold their diaper-clad premature infants skin-to-skin beneath their clothing for warmth and breastfeeding. While many hospitals, birth centers and neonatal intensive care units now call the practice skin-toskin care, the term kangaroo care is still affectionately used, too.

What are the benefits of skin-to-skin care for infants?

  • Warmth

  • Stablizing heartbeat and breathing

  • More time spent in the deep sleep and quiet alert states

  • Less crying

  • Increased weight gain

  • Improved breastfeeding

These benefits are apparent even when kangaroo care happens for only a few minutes each day.

Both parents can give kangaroo care!

Both parents can participate in skin-to-skin care. Most nurseries have comfortable rocking chairs and screens that can be placed around your chair or the baby's care area. Simply wear clothing that opens down the front. You can snuggle with your baby upright on your chest, or gently lay their head against your chest.

A source of comfort & calm after delivery

Feeling your baby's warm skin against yours allows a special closeness for you both. It can be a source of comfort and calm at a time when so many people on the medical team are caring for your newborn.

Once you take baby home

After you take your baby home, continue to find times to enjoy the pleasure of skin-to-skin contact. First thing in the morning or after a bath, for example, are great opportunities.

More information

Last Updated
Adapted from Understanding the NICU: What Parents of Preemies and Other Hospitalized Newborns Need to Know 2nd Edition (Copyright © 2023 American Academy of Pediatrics)
The information contained on this Web site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.
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