The term kangaroo care refers to the idea of keeping your newborn baby close to the body as much as possible during the infant/newborn stages – similar to how marsupials keep newborns in protective pouches, close to mama’s warm skin, soothing heartbeat and milk-laden breasts.
In most cases, Kangaroo care is used in hospitals, for preemies or babies requiring an extended stay in the NICU, giving them access to their mothers (or the warm bodies of nurses and/or volunteers) The benefits of kangaroo care over more traditional, isolated incubator care practices are continually proven in research studies.
7 Benefits of kangaroo care for Newborns and Infants
Whether your baby is in a hospital or not, we feel all mothers and primary caregivers
should learn more about the benefits of kangaroo care for newborns and infants.
1) Physiological stability
Infants that spend more time skin-to-skin, or body-to-body, with their primary caregivers have more stable and consistent heartbeats, breathing rhythms and blood pressure. This is also one of the reasons why experts think breastfed babies are less-likely to die from SIDS.
2) Better weight gain
In NICUs, babies who receive kangaroo care gain weight faster, and this is literally lifesaving in many cases where premature babies or infants with low-birth weights have a difficult time gaining weight. Healthy weight-gain after birth is a sign of good nourishment.
3) Decreased stress and crying
Not surprisingly, babies cry more and experience greater physical/emotional stress when separated from their parents. When you consider that a newborn/infant left in a carrier or in a crib can only see a few inches – to a couple of feet – away, it can be pretty scary to not know where anybody is.
Wearing and/or holding an infant as often as possible is Mother Nature’s natural soothing and comforting mechanism – and, believe it or not, the early security of Kangaroo care leads to more confident and independent children later on.
4) Better, deeper sleep
Ah, sleep deprivation is the natural way of things for most parents. However, babies who spend more time skin-to-skin tend to sleep deeper, and longer – a benefit to the babies themselves, parents and other household members.
5) Improved immune system function
Perhaps it’s also a given that a baby who is fed more often, gaining better weight and is less stressed also has better immune system function. Paired with breastfeeding (or breast milk via pumps and bottles) it’s a recipe for infant success.
6) Decreased NICU and/or hospital stays
If you have a baby in the hospital, this one will certainly inspire you to up the ante on kangaroo care: babies who receive kangaroo care have shorter and/or fewer overall hospital stays.
7) You and baby will experience greater bonding
One of the benefits of snuggling skin-to-skin with your baby is that is generates the production and release of oxytocin for the both of you. Also a reason why babies who are worn/carried are less-stressed, cry less and sleep better – oxytocin is a “love” hormone, and its release within your systems facilitates better bonding.
The bottom line is that we love kangaroo care because it makes for healthier, happier babies and mothers. Looking for a prenatal and postnatal care team who looks out for the both of you from start to finish? Schedule a consultation here at Overlake.