What is Kangaroo Care?
Kangaroo Care is a method of newborn care that embodies three crucial components which include skin-to-skin contact, exclusive breastfeeding and encouragement of the mother infant relationship. Kangaroo Care is practiced for at least two to three hours each day throughout early infancy. Skin-to-skin contact is achieved by placing the baby clothed in only a diaper up against the parent's bare chest.
When should Kangaroo Care be used?
Most often Kangaroo Care is encouraged for pre-term infants because it provides them much needed skin-to-skin contact sling and helps them to regulate several bodily functions including breathing, temperature and heart rate. If your preemie is in the NICU, the NICU staff will provide instructions on when Kangaroo Care can begin. Each hospital has a unique policy on Kangaroo Care. Some institute it from birth onward while others prefer to hold off until the infant is medically stable. While Kangaroo Care is most commonly suggested for the care of pre-term infants, all newborns including those born at full-term can greatly benefit from the closeness and intimacy that this method of care provides.
What type of carrier can be used for Kangaroo Care?
Since the infant needs to be held in this position for an extended period of time each day, most parents find that the use of a baby wrap or sling is helpful when providing Kangaroo Care. Wrap around carriers tend to be the best fit for this situation since they allow you to hold the infant in an upright position on your chest.
What are the benefits of Kangaroo Care?
Infants who receive Kangaroo Care spend less time crying and more time in a quiet alert state than those who do not. Additionally, infants receiving Kangaroo Care spend more time in a restful, deep sleep and are able to gain weight more readily. The close physical contact offered by Kangaroo Care can help a pre-term infant stabilize his breathing, body temperature and heartbeat
Mothers who provide Kangaroo Care to their infants typically breastfeed more frequently throughout the day and for a longer time period during the child's infancy. The regular skin-to-skin contact between mother and child also results in a significant increase in the mother's milk volume, which may account for the increased weight gain of infants receiving Kangaroo Care
Although Kangaroo Care is typically thought of as a method of newborn care provided by mothers, fathers can also play a role in providing the necessary skin-to-skin contact and parent baby bonding associated with Kangaroo Care. Kangaroo Care also provides parents with increased confidence in their parenting skills and strengthens the bond and sense of closeness they have with their newborn child.