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A mother performs kangaroo care  with her baby in the NICU.What is kangaroo care? 

Kangaroo care, also called skin-to-skin care, is when you hold your baby naked or in just a diaper on your bare chest. Holding your baby this way allows him or her to get to know you through your scent, your touch, your voice and the feel of your skin.

Why is it important to kangaroo? 

Kangaroo care helps support the growth and development of your baby’s brain. Kangaroo care will also help your baby to:

  • Sleep better.
  • Cry less.
  • Keep his or her body the right temperature.
  • Move into an open crib sooner.
  • Breathe better.
  • Gain weight.
  • Feel less pain.
  • Know you better.

When moms kangaroo, their bodies make milk to protect their baby. More milk = more protection.

Who can kangaroo?

  • Both parents can provide kangaroo care.
  • You can kangaroo your baby whether he or she is big or little, sick or healthy.
  • The nurses will help you decide when it is time to hold your baby this way.
  • Your baby may appear very fragile, and this might make you feel nervous to hold him or her. Remember, there is nothing more natural than you holding your baby, especially if he or she is sick. Together with your baby’s nurse, you will be able to make the right decision about holding your baby.
  • If you and your baby’s nurses decide that it is safe to hold your baby, then the safest way to hold him or her is in kangaroo care.

How do you kangaroo?

  • Plan to be with your baby for at least an hour (it is best to kangaroo your baby for at least 60 to 90 minutes, one whole sleep cycle).
  • Sit back and enjoy this special time with your baby!
  • Kangaroo your baby as often as possible.
  • It is good for your baby’s brain, breastfeeding and bonding.

Adapted from ILCA “Inside Track” by Kathleen S. Kuhn, RN, IBCLC & Megen J. Kuhn, RN, BSN