What Is Kangaroo Care?

What Is Kangaroo Care?

“Kangaroo Care,” sometimes called baby skin-to-skin care, can be one of those confusing pieces of baby lingo that take some deciphering. You might see or hear it from the folks in your birthing classes and then quickly whip out your phone to discreetly Google the definition.

Tabezee is here to clarify this concept so you can decide if this is a smart move for your growing family.

To put it simply, kangaroo care is a form of holding a baby that includes skin-to-skin contact. The little one is usually naked except for a diaper or half onesie and is seated upright against their parents’ chest. Pediatric healthcare providers often recommend it for low birth weight infants and preemies, but everyone can benefit from this practice.

 

Kangaroo Care: The Basics

Both moms and dads can partake in kangaroo care and spend time cuddling with their babies. While this sort of holding is used most often with premature babies in the hospital, it can be a wonderful practice for all babies. So whether your baby showed up earlier than you expected or a little later, they’ll likely love some kangaroo care.

Moral of the story: kangaroo care is good for everyone involved. 

To hold your baby so closely is a special experience. Not only does it help to create a lasting bond between parent and baby, but it also has medical benefits for your little one. Holding your baby chest to chest can be done in the hospital, supervised by a nurse or doctor, or safely in the privacy of your own home. 

Regardless of where you decide to practice kangaroo care, it is undoubtedly good for you and your newest family member (we’ll explain all the details later on). 

 

How Did Kangaroo Care Come To Be?

Kangaroo care was developed sometime in the 70s in Colombia. During this timeframe, premature infants had a particularly high mortality rate, spurring a concerted medical effort to reduce these numbers.

Researchers eventually found that physical closeness did wonders for a baby’s health. Being held close to a parent’s body for an extended period of time helped babies not only survive but seriously thrive. It was a major breakthrough!

Since introducing kangaroo care into society, it has become all the more common. What was first suggested only for premature babies in the NICU (neonatal intensive care unit) at a children’s hospital is now suggested for all newborns, healthy and full-term alike.

This method earned the nickname “Kangaroo care” from one of our favorite Australian marsupials — the kangaroo. A mom kangaroo keeps her joey (baby kangaroo) in her pouch for about seven to eight months, but the joey might pop back in for a visit until after his first birthday.

 

What Are the Benefits of Kangaroo Care?

So, we’ve covered the definition and the basic history — but what about the benefits? We have got you covered. Kangaroo care is not only healthy and great for premature and full-term babies, but it’s also amazing for caregivers.

It’s not just for moms either; everyone can participate in this method and reap the following benefits:

 

Benefits of Kangaroo Care for Children:

  1. Stabilizes your baby’s heart rate

  2. Promotes a stable body temperature

  3. Improves breathing patterns and making breathing more regular

  4. Improves oxygen saturation to a newborn’s organs and connective tissue

  5. Gain increases hours in deep sleep time 

  6. Encourages weight gain

  7. Reduces risk of sleep apnea and bradycardia

  8. Boosts brain development

  9. Decreases frequent crying

  10. Encourages more successful feeding sessions

  11. Reduces postpartum hospital stay for preterm babies 


    Benefits of Kangaroo Care for Parents:

    1. Improves bond with baby and feelings of closeness

    2. Milk production: Increase in breastmilk supply in breastfeeding people 

    3. Increases in feelings of control in some cases

    4. Increases confidence in caring for your baby


    So Why Exactly Does Kangaroo Care Work?

    So you know the benefits, but why does kangaroo care work?

    When a mother practices kangaroo care, the baby typically snuggles between the breasts and falls asleep. Breasts have even been shown to change in temperature to match your baby’s needs. So a woman’s body can both warm up and cool down their baby.

    With improved temperature regulation, babies get higher-quality sleep. When they have those energy reserves, they conserve energy and redirect calories to increase weight gain and overall growth (and cry in the middle of the night). 

     

    What Should Babies Wear for Kangaroo Care?

    Babies are born with very large heads, which is something that birth givers can certainly attest to. Their rather large heads can make it tricky to change them, especially considering the skull’s soft spots and weak neck muscles.

    That’s why Tabezee created the world’s only Bottom-Up Baby Bodysuit to make changing a baby a whole lot easier and faster. When your baby is sporting their favorite Tabezee, and it’s time for some skin-to-skin contact, simply undo the patented shoulder flaps and roll down the body suit.

    Our Bottom-Up Bodysuit is made with 100% GOTS Certified Organic Cotton so that your baby’s clothes can be just as soft and gentle as their parents are.

     

    How and When Should Caregivers Practice Kangaroo Care?

    Typically, your nurse or doctor will show you how to engage in kangaroo care, but here are some simple steps to engage in kangaroo care on your own:

    1. Ensure that you are in a safe and private-feeling space.

    2. It is helpful to wear a shirt that can be easily removed, like a button-down. Remove your shirt and/or bra to prepare for kangaroo care.

    3. Place the baby, wearing only a diaper or with a bare chest, on your bare chest.

    4. If you’re at all worried about the temperature of your space, use a blanket, sweater, or another shirt to cover your baby’s back to ensure they are warm and comfortable.

    5. Sit back and relax. Breathe as normally as possible. Try to really bring yourself to a calm place.

    6. Allow your baby to truly snuggle in and rest. Although it might be tempting to play, this is a time to focus on centering yourself and giving yourself a break.


    Things To Avoid When Doing Kangaroo Care

    Like everything else related to having a new baby around, there are some things you’ll want to avoid. 

    Here are some factors to keep in mind:

    1. If you’re feeling sick, don’t engage. It’s best not to do kangaroo care if you’re feeling even slightly under the weather to avoid getting your tiny one sick.

    2. Put down the electronics. Not only is it better to fully concentrate on the relaxation of kangaroo care, but it can also be a safety risk to have a handful of electronics while you hold on to your baby. Plus, if a pop-up ad starts playing the most annoying music in the world, your baby will wake up immediately, promptly ending that tiny slice of peace.

    3. No judgment, but don’t smoke right before kangaroo care with your baby. You can make all your own choices as an adult, but don’t risk any of that smoke or residue affecting your new baby. 


    How Tabeeze Makes Kangaroo Care Easy

    Mother Earth really knows her stuff. From kangaroos to koalas, skin-to-skin contact is one of our planet’s best inventions yet. Not only is it great for them and for you, but it is also an excuse to relax and get some snugs!

    If you know us here at Tabeeze, you know that we like to make your life easier. Let us help you destress and take just a bit of this load off so that you can focus on loving and enjoying all your baby time. 

     

    Sources:

    Skin-to-Skin: Your Parenting Jump Start | Healthline

    Kangaroo Mother Care | The Embryo Project Encyclopedia

    Health Effects of Secondhand Smoke | CDC

    About Tree Kangaroos | Woodland Park Zoo Seattle WA

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