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Kangaroo care: Bonding for mother and baby

Kangaroo care

It can be difficult for the parents of babies in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit to bond with their babies.

Often premature or sick infants require special medical equipment to help regulate their oxygen levels, breathing and heart rate. Having these machines attached to a baby make it more difficult for parents to hold and cuddle their newborn.

One unique way parents can bond with their infant in the NICU is to use kangaroo care.

Kangaroo care is a special way of holding a baby using skin-to-skin contact. Parents can start using kangaroo care as early as the first week after the baby is born if they are medically stable. Even babies who are on a ventilator can experience this special form of bonding.

In order to best facilitate kangaroo care, we recommend parents wear a shirt with buttons in order to make skin-to-skin contact easier.

Since it can be stressful to move babies with special medical equipment from their bed, kangaroo care sessions typically last at least an hour to give the baby time to settle down and relax during this special bonding time.

In addition, kangaroo care can also help nursing mothers as having skin-to-skin contact with mom has been proven to help increase the production of breast milk.


About Jill Downey

Jill Downey, RN, is a nurse with more than 20 years of experience of caring for infants in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.