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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