Nicu Kangaroo Care

INicu Kangaroo Care is the ultimate in skin-to-skin contact. A baby wearing only a diaper is placed in an upright position against a parent’s bare chest. Both mothers and fathers can do Kangaroo Care. It’s often used with premature infants while they are still in the hospital. But it can also be done at home after your baby comes home from the NICU

Kangaroo care is a method of holding your baby that involves skin-to-skin contact. This approach can help your baby cope with the stress of medical difficulties, and get used to breastfeeding. The baby, who is typically naked except for a diaper, is placed in an upright position against a parent’s bare chest.

What is Kangaroo care? Kangaroo care is an effective method of parenting that involves skin-to-skin contact with a baby. As the parent holds the baby, who is typically naked except for a diaper, upright against the bare chest, the warmth and touch of their skin can soothe the baby.

Kangaroo care is a method of holding your baby that involves skin-to-skin contact. It can be done with premature infants while they are still in the hospital or at home after they go home. The parent wears only a diaper and holds the baby gently against his or her bare chest. Kangaroo care can help your baby to relax, sleep better and be more alert during feedings.

The NICU kangaroo care line is a series of t-shirts, onesies, and nursery wall art dedicated to the babies in the neonatal intensive care unit. Kangaroo care is the name for skin-to-skin contact between an infant and its parents.

The NICU Kangaroo program is a variation of traditional kangaroo care practices. It involves placing preterm newborns at risk of developing morbidities or complications, such as hyaline membrane disease, intraventricular hemorrhage and bronchopulmonary dysplasia, in their parent(s)’ arms.

Kangaroo care is a method of holding a baby that involves skin-to-skin contact. The baby, who is typically naked except for a diaper, is placed in an upright position against a parent’s bare chest. Both mothers and fathers can do kangaroo care. It’s often used with premature infants while they are still in the hospital.

Reasons to do kangaroo care

Kangaroo care is good for mom, dad, and baby in so many ways.  Some of the ways kangaroo care can be good for your baby and for baby’s parents are:

Giving kangaroo care
  • Mom makes more milk and has a better chance of breastfeeding
  • Baby stays warmer and body temperature is better
  • Baby has improved heart rate and breathing rate (vital signs)
  • Baby has improved weight gain
  • Baby cries less and has lower stress levels
  • Baby has improved sleep
  • Baby and parent bond more
  • Baby has decreased pain and risk of infection
  • Baby has better brain growth and development

When kangaroo care is done

  • Kangaroo care may be started as soon as you are able.  Please let your nurse or doctor know when you are ready to begin.  If you are not certain, the nurse may help you try
    to become more comfortable. If your baby has a breathing tube, read the instructions on page 3.
  • Parents usually start kangaroo care once or twice a day for at least one hour each time or as long as it is tolerated by your baby. The longer you hold your baby, the better. Any amount of time is good, but it is best to try for at least 1 to 2 hours each day.
  • Avoid doing other things during kangaroo care, like fast rocking, talking on the phone, or watching TV. Kangaroo time is a quiet time to be enjoyed by you and your infant.  Soft talking to your baby, singing a lullaby, or reading a book are good activities that help your baby brain grow.

How to do kangaroo care

Kangaroo care can be done at your baby’s bedside while you sit in a chair. An adult bed can be brought in if needed.; We provide curtains or screens for privacy.

To do kangaroo care, please follow these steps:

  1. Let your baby’s nurses know when you will be coming so they can plan for it.  You should plan to spend at least 1 hour doing kangaroo care.
  2. Shower before coming to the hospital.  Check your chest for rashes or open wounds. If you have these, do not do kangaroo care until your skin has healed.
  3. Wear or bring a loose-fitting shirt or warm-up jacket that buttons or zips up the front.
  4. Do not smoke or use perfume or scented lotions before doing kangaroo care.
  5. Pump your breasts and use the toilet right before you start kangaroo care. You can also pump your breasts while doing kangaroo care if you are holding your baby for a long time, just ask your nurse for help.
  6. Your baby should be dressed in only a diaper. Mothers should remove their bra and dads should be bare-chested.
  7. The nurse will help you position your baby on your chest. Once your infant is on your chest, cover him or her with a blanket, then button or zip your shirt or a special kangaroo care wrap. This will help keep baby warm and in place.
  8. Make yourself comfortable. Sit back and raise the footrest on your recliner or prop your feet up. Enjoy this special time with your baby. 
  9. It is safe for you to fall asleep while performing kangaroo care in the hospital when you are wearing the special wrap to keep your baby safe. However, you should never fall asleep while holding your baby at home.

Kangarooing or holding your baby with a breathing tube

If your baby has a breathing tube (Picture 2), there are specific instructions to follow. The breathing tube is very important to helping your baby heal.  Any time your baby is moved, there is a chance that the tube could move and cause breathing problems.

Please follow these directions to keep your baby safe:Giving kangaroo care to a baby with a breathing tube.

  • You must ask your nurse before getting your baby in and out of the bed.  The nurse or a respiratory therapist are the only people
    who should move your baby. 
  • If you are uncomfortable or need to change position during kangaroo care or holding, call
    the nurse first for help. Make sure your call light is close before the nurse hands you your baby.
  • The nurse will be checking on your baby’s breathing tube often while you give kangaroo care. Do not be alarmed.
  • Do not put your baby back into bed or reposition your baby by yourself.

If you have any questions, be sure to ask your doctor or nurse.

Kangaroo Care for Your Infant (PDF)

Kangaroo Care In The Nicu

Kangaroo care is a special way for you to hold your infant that gives the baby skin-to-skin contact (Picture 1).  The baby wears only a diaper and is held close against your chest.  Since your infant already knows you by your scent, touch, and the way your voice and heartbeat sound, he or she is most comfortable close to you.  Both parents can do kangaroo care as often and as long as possible throughout your baby’s stay in the hospital

What is kangaroo care?

Holding your baby closely to your chest is a special experience that can help build the bond between you and your new family member. This type of touch isn’t just good for bonding — it’s also medically beneficial for your baby. Kangaroo care is a method of holding your baby to your chest. This allows for skin-to-skin contact between you and baby. During each session, your baby will be placed (naked except for a diaper and hat) on your chest (also bared to allow skin-to-skin) for up to a few hours. A blanket, shirt, hospital gown or robe can be wrapped around you and over your baby’s back for warmth. This wrapping of your infant into your chest looks very much like a mother kangaroo holding her baby in her pouch — which is where the name kangaroo care comes from.

How did kangaroo care come about?

Kangaroo care was developed in Bogota, Colombia in the late 1970s. This type of care was a response to a high death rate in preterm babies — the death rate for premature infants was approximately 70% at that time. The babies were dying of infections, respiratory problems and simply due to a lack of attention. Researchers found that babies who were held close to their mothers’ bodies for large portions of the day not only survived, but thrived.

In the United States, hospitals that encourage kangaroo care typically have mothers or fathers provider skin-to-skin contact with their preterm babies for several hours each day. Kangaroo care isn’t only for premature babies — it can also be very good for full-term babies and their parents. Now, skin-to-skin contact is encouraged for all babies.

What are the benefits of kangaroo care?

There are many benefits of kangaroo care. It’s not only good for both premature and full-term babies, but also the parents. Both women and men can practice skin-to-skin bonding with the baby.

The benefits of kangaroo care to your baby include:

  • Stabilizing your baby’s heart rate.
  • Improving your baby’s breathing pattern and making the breathing more regular.
  • Improving oxygen saturation levels (this is a sign of how well oxygen is being delivered to all of the infant’s organs and tissues).
  • Gaining in sleep time.
  • Experiencing more rapid weight gain.
  • Decreasing crying.
  • Having more successful breastfeeding episodes.
  • Having an earlier hospital discharge.

The benefits of kangaroo care for parents can include:

  • Improving bonding with your baby and the feeling of closeness.
  • Increasing your breast milk supply.
  • Increasing your confidence in the ability to care for your new baby.
  • Increasing your confidence that your baby is well cared for.
  • Increasing your sense of control.

Why does kangaroo care work?

The benefits of kangaroo care listed above have all been demonstrated in research studies. In fact, studies have found that by holding your baby skin-to-skin, it can stabilize the heart and respiratory (breathing) rates, improve oxygen saturation rates, better regulate an infant’s body temperature and conserve a baby’s calories.

When a mother is practicing kangaroo care, her infant typically snuggles into her breasts and falls asleep within a few minutes. The breasts themselves have been shown to change in temperature to match your baby’s temperature needs. In other words, your breasts can increase in temperature when your baby’s body is cool and can decrease in temperature when the baby is warm.

The extra sleep that your infant gets while snuggling with mom and the assistance in regulating body temperature helps your baby conserve energy and redirect calorie expenditures (use) toward growth and weight gain. Being positioned on mom also helps to stabilize your infant’s respiratory and heart rates. Research has also shown that practicing kangaroo care can have a positive impact on your baby’s brain development.


How do I do kangaroo care?

Your nurse will typically help you get started with kangaroo care in the hospital. A few basic tips for getting started with kangaroo care include:

  • Removing your bra and wearing a shirt that opens in the front. You can also use a hospital gown that opens in the front for kangaroo care. Screens can usually be provided for your privacy.
  • Placing the baby — only wearing a diaper and hat — on your bare chest. Your baby will be in an upright position, with his or her chest against your chest.
  • Covering the baby’s back. Once you’re settled skin-to-skin, drape a blanket or your shirt or gown over your baby’s back. Keep your baby warm and comfortable while snuggled against your chest.
  • Relaxing together. During your session, try and relax as you hold your baby. Remember to breathe normally and focus on your child.
  • Planning on multiple sessions. You should plan to do kangaroo care more than once — at least one hour, four or more times each week. However, the number of times you will be able to do kangaroo care in one day will be up to your nurse. Talk to your care team about the best schedule for your baby.
  • Letting your baby rest. This is a great time to let your baby rest and relax on you. Allow your baby to snuggle in and fall asleep during the session. Remember, this isn’t time to play with your baby.

Moms aren’t the only ones that can do kangaroo care. A baby can also benefit from skin-to-skin time with dad. Actually, the different feel of the father’s body will provide a different stimulation to the baby.

There will be times when you can’t do kangaroo care with your child. If your baby has arterial monitoring lines, is on an oscillator or is receiving another type of treatment you may not be able to do kangaroo care.

Is there anything I shouldn’t do while practicing kangaroo care?

There are a few things you shouldn’t do when you are practicing kangaroo care with your baby. The most important thing is to be focused on your baby during this time. Spending time skin-to-skin with your child can help your baby in the first few days, weeks and months of life. This activity can also be a great chance to bond with your child.

When you are doing kangaroo care, make sure you:

  • Put away your cell phone. Having your phone out during kangaroo care is not only a distraction from your child, but it can be a safety issue.
  • Are healthy. If you aren’t feeling well or have a current illness, it’s best to not do kangaroo care until you are feeling better.
  • Can spend at least 60 minutes each session skin-to-skin with your baby.
  • Have clean and healthy skin (no perfumes, skin rashes, open skin lesions or cold sores).
  • Don’t smoke before kangaroo care.

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