Research has shown that skin-to-skin contact between caregivers and infants is linked to many benefits towards child development. Skin-to-skin contact is often referred to “Kangaroo Care” because it is similar to how a female kangaroo carries her joey in her pouch. Parents who practice kangaroo care will be either be shirtless/topless (or wear a bra) and hold baby closely chest-to-chest. Many times, parents may secure baby against their chests with a baby wrap/carrier to ensure warm intimacy.
According to the Cleveland Clinic, benefits of Kangaroo Care for baby include:
- Improved (more regular) breathing pattern
- Gain in sleep time
- More rapid weight gain
- Decreased crying
- More successful breastfeeding episodes with mother
There are also benefits to caregivers, such as:
- Improved bonding, feelings of closeness with their babies
- Increased breast milk supply for nursing mothers
- Increased confidence in ability to care for their babies
- Increased confidence that their babies are well cared for
- Increased sense of control
The closeness of Kangaroo Care supports baby’s basic needs which will allow him/her to relax and listen to the caregiver’s voice. During this time is when mom or dad can sing lullabies and simply have long conversations with baby about anything. Although babies are nestled against the caregiver’s chest, they can still hear every breath inhaled and exhaled, the sound of the caregiver humming to a tune on the radio, and even children’s books being read aloud to them. The caregiver’s voice becomes associated with warmth and nurturing affection. Kangaroo Care is the perfect time to begin reading children’s stories to infants. They are able to detect the change in volume, intonation, and sounds of the text. The more often stories are read to babies in this way, the more likely they are to recognize and remember them once babies are old enough to see the pictures and help turn the pages.
The Parenting Hub would love to hear stories of how you make Kangaroo Care special for your child. Please send them to: firstname.lastname@example.org