Kangaroo care

What is kangaroo care?

Kangaroo care, also called Kangaroo Mother Care, is a method of holding a newborn baby that involves direct skin-to-skin contact. The baby, who is typically wearing only a diaper, is placed on the parent’s or caregiver’s bare chest for a few hours a day.

This simple yet powerful approach to newborn care mimics the nurturing environment of a kangaroo’s pouch and is recognised for its remarkable benefits to both babies and parents.

 

Who can benefit from kangaroo care?

Kangaroo care is beneficial for all newborns, particularly for premature and low birth weight babies who require more support in their early days.

However, it is a valuable practice for any parent looking to deepen their bond with their child and improve their child’s development and wellbeing.

What are some of the benefits of kangaroo care?

For infants:

  • Positively stimulates brain activity and development.
  • Maintains body temperature and stabilises heart rate and breathing.
  • Helps babies acquire beneficial antibodies and bacteria from the caregiver, critical for strengthening their immune system.
  • Increases the time infants spend with the parent or caregiver and reduces exposure to hospital equipment and bacteria, lowering the risk of infections.

For parents and caregivers:

  • Promotes bonding with the newborn.
  • Prevents anxiety and stress by avoiding medically unnecessary separation from their babies.
  • Helps parents recognise and respond to their baby’s cues, improving early communication and boosting confidence.
  • Stimulates early breastfeeding, helping mothers to produce milk.

I’m a parent and want to do kangaroo care. What do I do?

[This video is also available in Spanish, German, Italian.]

Following the recommendations by the WHO:

  • Kangaroo care may be started immediately after birth, as soon as you are able to provide it, and the baby is ready.
  • Ensure the baby is only in a diaper and you are bare-chested for maximum skin-to-skin contact.
  • Place your baby on your chest, facing downward with their head turned to one side. Ensure the baby’s legs and arms are comfortably bent at the sides.
  • If you want to do kangaroo care – but find it difficult – this is quite normal. NICU staff will help you get started with kangaroo care safely and effectively.
  • Watch the video above to find out more about the benefits of kangaroo care, and how it can be performed safely and effectively.