Kangaroo care – also known as skin-to-skin contact – is a technique in which a baby is placed in direct contact with a parent’s bare chest where he or she can cuddle, be rocked and hear the comforting sounds of the parent’s voice and heartbeat. The name comes from the way a mother kangaroo cares for her baby by holding her little one close to her body in her pouch.
The technique is simple: the diapered baby snuggles on the chest, with his or her back covered with a light blanket and usually with the head turned so one ear is positioned near the parent’s heart. Both mothers and fathers can provide kangaroo care.
Newborns greatly benefit from kangaroo care because it gives the baby an immediate sense of safety, security and warmth, which encourages bonding. That, in turn, results in a calmer, less stressful environment for the baby and encourages both physical and emotional development. While all babies can benefit from kangaroo care, it has proven to be especially valuable for premature babies in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).
Kangaroo care has been proven to help premature babies in many ways, including:
Full-term babies enjoy all of the same advantages of skin-to-skin contact as preemies.
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