When a baby is born, one of the first things that doctors will recommend doing is skin-to-skin or kangaroo care. Babies can do it with both mom and dad to help with family bonding. It’s also recommended that you continue engaging in skin-to-skin contact after you get home.
Skin-to-skin contact is very important for a baby’s development — but sometimes, everything you need to do with your little one may seem overwhelming. You need to change diapers, feed them, wash them, and help them fall asleep, so even little things like taking off your T-shirt for skin-to-skin might feel like too much.
Do you need to take off your shirt for skin-to-skin? Or can you and your little one enjoy cuddling and bonding with a shirt on? Although cuddling at any time in any way is great for you and your little one, true skin-to-skin contact has its own unique benefits.
What Is Skin-to-Skin Contact?
Skin-to-skin care is placing your baby on your chest, belly down. Both moms and dads can do skin-to-skin, but some of the benefits are different for each parent. At Tabeeze, we are here to help new families make skin-to-skin contact as easy as possible!
The first time babies experience skin-to-skin care is right after they’re born, unless they are in need of medical care. The midwife, nurse, or OB-GYN will place the newborn on their mother’s chest with a blanket covering their back so they can keep warm and cozy.
The mother’s family members can also do the initial skin-to-skin, especially if the baby was delivered by C-section. Some mothers may need some healing or recuperation time after giving birth, either by C-section or vaginally. They may need to take some time before they are ready to hold their little one. In that case, a partner or another loved one can help out with the skin-to-skin contact and hold the newborn first.
What happens in those first few hours really depends on the needs of mothers and babies. Everyone’s needs are different.
If your little one is premature, they might need some medical help before they can spend time with their parents. Your nurse can help you with skin-to-skin time so that any medical devices, like a baby’s IV or a feeding tube, don’t get caught on anything or twisted up.
There may also be other medical reasons that skin-to-skin care needs to be put off for a bit. Once your little one is ready, your family can spend some quality time cuddling and bonding with the newest family member.
Can I Do Skin-to-Skin With a Shirt?
Since skin-to-skin is in the name, you’ve probably guessed it’s best to do skin-to-skin care without a shirt or bra. This physical contact helps soothe both the baby and the parent, and it helps body heat transfer from parent to child.
However, this doesn’t necessarily mean you need to remove your shirt completely. If you’re wearing a button-down or you have a shirt made to hold your little one inside it, you can keep those on. All you need to do is unbutton your shirt or place your baby in the pouch.
When you and your little one are having your skin-to-skin bonding time, you will want to place a blanket over your baby’s back to keep the warmth in. You could also use a wrap to help keep you and your little one connected.
Do I Need To Take Off My Baby’s Onesie?
You might be wondering if you need to take off your little one’s onesie. Since onesies usually go over the head, it’s best to take them off. Trying to roll it up in the front can make an awkward bump for your little one to lie on. And since you will want to have contact with your baby’s head, tummy, and chest, folding the onesie in half won’t be helpful either.
However, with a Tabeeze Bottom-Up Baby Bodysuit, all you need to do is unbutton the shoulder snaps. Then you can pull the top of their bodysuit down so that their chest and belly are uncovered — perfect for skin-to-skin.
You might want your little one to continue wearing a diaper to prevent any accidents from occurring. Luckily, the Tabeeze bodysuit can keep the diaper covered while promoting skin-to-skin contact.
Why Is Skin-to-Skin Contact Important?
Newborns love physical contact, but there are other specific, measurable reasons why skin-to-skin is helpful for newborns. Birth is not only a big event for the mother.
It’s also a big transition for the baby. Skin-to-skin care can help your little one make that transition more smooth.
1. It’s Relaxing
Human contact is comforting and soothing for anyone, but especially for newborn babies. Babies who receive skin-to-skin care tend to be calmer and cry less often. Newborns and infants have difficulty regulating their own body temperature, and skin-to-skin can help with that. Plus, it can help with growth since your baby won’t have to expend as much of their energy on keeping themselves warm.
2. It Boosts Brain Development
Skin-to-skin contact supports brain development that aids in emotional regulation. Scans of infants during skin-to-skin contact showed that this practice stimulated the left frontal lobe of the brain — an area linked with cognitive development and emotional regulation.
Overall, skin-to-skin contact promotes a feeling of safety. Your little one will be able to learn how to self-regulate their heart rate and breathing.
3. It Helps Create a Bond
This practice promotes bonding between parents and their child. Parents that do skin-to-skin with their babies tend to cuddle with them much more often, even as the children get older.
Not only does skin-to-skin promote an intimate and loving bond, but it can also help parents feel more confident. A 2017 study revealed that as little as 15 minutes a day helped fathers feel more bonded to their babies and more confident in their parenting skills.
4. It Makes Breastfeeding Easier
If a mother decides to breastfeed, skin-to-skin can help her little one latch and suck easier, and it can help with milk production: Skin-to-skin contact promotes the production of oxytocin and prolactin, the hormones behind breast milk. In turn, babies are able to smell the breast milk, guiding them to the breast.
How Do You Do Skin-to-Skin?
When you do skin-to-skin with your baby, there are a few things you should do to prepare, especially if you’re planning on doing it for more than a few minutes.
For example, it’s a good idea to go to the bathroom and have a glass of water ready so that you don’t need anything while you’re bonding with your baby.
You may want to prepare things that will help you and your baby to stay comfortable, like a pillow for support and blankets to keep you warm.
If you’re at the hospital, the nurses will probably help you get situated. They’ll carefully place your little one belly down on your chest and a blanket over both of you. They’ll help make sure that any IV lines, monitoring devices, or feeding tubes remain where they need to be.
While holding your little one, you may want to sing to them or hum a soothing tune. You could either read them a book or just talk to them about what’s going on around them.
Mothers may notice their babies trying to latch onto their breasts, which usually means that they’re hungry and need to eat. Once they start to get restless, it may mean that your baby is ready to do something else or they need a diaper change.
Bonding Time With Baby
When your little one is first born, you’ll want to cuddle with them as much as possible. Skin-to-skin contact is a great way to cuddle since it promotes bonding and your baby’s development.
With a blanket or a wrap to cover your little one and make a pouch, you and your baby can spend as much time as you need to bond. It can help with breastfeeding, mood, and growth.
Generally, you’ll probably need to remove or adjust your shirt in some way so that you and your baby can get the full benefits of skin-to-skin. However, wearing flexible tops like button-downs or oversized shirts can make this process much easier.
Cuddling with your little one at any time is meaningful for both parent and child, but skin-to-skin care is an especially significant part of your little one’s first few weeks of life.