Kangaroo Care: Proven Benefits for Newborn Babies
The bond between a mother and her newborn baby has many aspects. An important action to create a physical, emotional, and intellectual bond between a mother and newborn baby through which both benefit may be facilitated through kangaroo care.
What is kangaroo care?
The term “kangaroo care” refers to the relationship between a mother kangaroo and her joey (baby kangaroo). After birth, the joey crawls into mother’s pouch, latches onto a nipple, and is nourished, protected, and comforted.
Kangaroo care, or skin-to-skin contact, is a form of developmental care for newborn babies. The basic idea is to provide emotional and social foundations for your newborn baby by lying him on mom or dad’s chest, skin-to-skin. A baby can hear his parent’s voices and mother’s heartbeat inside the womb, and lying on her chest directly after birth can be comforting and calming for him.
Since baby is only wearing a diaper and mom or dad are undressed from the waist up, most hospitals will assist with privacy; some provide a privacy screen or large stretchy shirt to wear. A lightweight blanket can be draped over the top of both you and baby for privacy and comfort.
How does Kangaroo Care help newborn babies?
There have been numerous studies done on the benefits of kangaroo care for newborn babies. Kangaroo care benefits newborn babies (especially those in the NICU) by helping them:
- Regulate temperature, heart rate, and breathing
- Improve weight gain and overall growth
- Stabilize organ function and self-regulation abilities
- Experience less pain and less crying
- Promote better sleep patterns
- Avoid infections
- Take advantage of improved nutrition from mothers’ increase in breastmilk production
- Have a greater desire to breastfeed
- Leave the hospital sooner
There are also long-term benefits of kangaroo care for babies. It promotes healthy brain development, improved cognitive and motor development, and higher social competence as baby grows. Mothers, also, are better able to recognize baby’s cues and are less likely to feel depressed.
How does Kangaroo Care help parents?
If your baby is born in a hospital, and especially if she is in the NICU, it’s easy to feel as if the nurses and doctors play a greater role in caring for her than you do. As her parent, you can provide a positive beginning for her long-term emotional and social health by embracing her, talking softly, and helping her feel your affection and warmth.
Ignoring the tubes, machines, and bustle of the NICU and instead focusing on baby will help you feel connected and more fulfilled. The greatest reward of kangaroo care is the chance for bonding, resulting in more calm and less stress for both baby and mom and dad. In addition, kangaroo care helps stimulate breastmilk for mothers.
It’s important to note that kangaroo care is just as important for full term newborns as it is for preemies. Really anyone who cares for the baby can perform kangaroo care: mom, dad, a sibling, or grandparent. It’s never too late to begin kangaroo care. If you were unable to hold your newborn baby shortly after birth due to complications for either you or baby, take the opportunity to do so as soon as possible. There is truly nothing to lose and a host of advantages to gain.