What is meant by "skin-to-skin"?

Skin-to-skin means your full-term, healthy baby is placed belly-down, directly on your chest, right after birth. Your care provider dries your baby off, puts a hat on him or her, covers him or her with a warm blanket, and gets your baby settled on your chest. The first hours of snuggling skin-to-skin let you and your baby get to know each other. They also have important health benefits.

If your baby needs to meet the pediatrician first, or if you deliver by C-section, you can unwrap your baby and cuddle shortly after birth. If necessary, your partner can do the initial skin to skin. Newborns crave skin-to-skin contact, but it's sometimes overwhelming for new moms. It's okay to start slowly as you get to know your baby.


Keep your baby skin-to-skin as much as possible. Snuggling gives you and your baby the best start for breastfeeding. Eight different research studies have shown that babies who have had the benefit of skin-to-skin breastfeed better. They also continue to keep nursing an average of six weeks longer. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that all breastfeeding babies spend time skin-to-skin right after birth. Keeping your baby skin-to-skin in the first few weeks makes it easy to know when to feed your baby, especially if your baby is a little sleepy.

A smooth transition

Your chest is the best place for your baby to adjust to life in the outside world. Compared with babies who are swaddled or kept in a crib, skin-to-skin babies stay warmer and calmer, cry less, and have healthier blood sugar levels.


Skin-to-skin cuddling may affect how you relate with your baby. Researchers have watched mothers and infants in the first few days after birth, and they noticed that skin-to-skin moms touch and cuddle their babies more. Even a year later, skin-to-skin moms snuggled more with their babies during a visit with the pediatrician.

Skin-to-skin beyond the delivery room

Keep cuddling skin-to-skin after you leave the hospital. Your baby will stay warm and comfortable on your chest, and the benefits for bonding, soothing, and breastfeeding will likely continue. If your baby is sleepy, skin-to-skin can help keep your baby interested in nursing. Dads can snuggle, too. Fathers and mothers who hold babies skin-to-skin help keep them calm and cozy. Babies are comforted by skin to skin during procedures. Skin-to-skin may enhance brain development. Fathers and mothers who hold babies skin to skin are thought to have increased confidence and are more relaxed.

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 01/01/2018.


  • Haxton D, Doering J, Gingras L, Kelly L. Implementing skin-to-skin contact at birth using the Iowa model: applying evidence to practice. Nurs Womens Health. 2012;16(3):220-9.
  • March of Dimes. Kangaroo care. (http://www.marchofdimes.org/complications/kangaroo-care.aspx) Accessed 1/15/2019.

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