Kangaroo Care, a technique that involves the skin-to-skin contact of a newborn to an adult, provides numerous health benefits for newborns, particularly preemies. Similar to how marsupials, particularly kangaroos, carry their young in their pouch, Kangaroo Care involves placing a baby tummy-down in an upright position on an adult’s bare chest. Kangaroo care began in the NICU in Bogota, Columbia, when a lack of caregivers for premature and low birth weight babies promoted the need to utilize mothers as a solution to this shortage. Mothers provided continuous skin-to-skin contact with their newborns, which worked to keep the newborns warm and promoted breastfeeding. Following its introduction, Kangaroo Care improved the survival rates of premature and low birth weight newborns and allowed premature newborns the ability to leave the hospital earlier than before. This inexpensive method of caring for newborns not only promotes closeness between parent and child, but also promotes positive development for Baby.
Benefits of Kangaroo Care
Alleviates colicky behaviors
Kangaroo care eases the transition from alert to sleep states, one of the factors that contributes to excessive crying. By promoting an easier sleep transition, increasing sleep time, and reducing crying, colicky behaviors are alleviated.
Promotes weight gain
When using Kangaroo Care, the newborn has easier access to the mother’s breast. This convenience promotes breastfeeding as needed for the newborn, allowing more rapid weight gain. In addition, more calories are conserved due to the increase in sleep time promoted by Kangaroo Care.
The skin-to-skin contact technique of Kangaroo Care allows heat from the mother or adult’s body to be transferred to the baby. Due to premature newborn’s inability to regulate their own temperature, Kangaroo care can provide an alternative to the incubator by preventing newborns from getting too cold.
Promotes milk let-down
The increase in skin-to-skin contact between mother and baby contributes to milk let-down. In addition, this contact promotes more frequent breast-feeding, and with more frequent feeding, milk supply increases.
Shorter hospital stay
Kangaroo Care promotes the ability to regulate temperature, gain weight, and take feedings by mouth, all of which are required criteria for discharge from the hospital after birth. Using Kangaroo Care helps premature babies reach the criteria necessary for discharge at a more rapid rate, making hospital stays shorter.
Bird, Cheryl. “Milestones a NICU Baby Must Reach Before Going Home.” About Health. 10 Dec. 2014.Web. 14 Sept. 2015.
“Kangaroo Care Benefits.” Kangaroo Care Benefits for Preemies. Web. 14 Sept. 2015.
“Kangaroo Care.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation. Web. 14 Sept. 2015.