Gently pressed against their mommies like kangaroos in pouches, newborns get their first cuddles all while reaping the benefits of skin-to-skin contact.
Kangaroo care came about in the 1970s, when Colombian doctors noticed that pre-term babies held close to their mothers were more likely to thrive than those not held close, according to the Cleveland Clinic. Researchers soon learned that babies that got skin-to-skin contact slept better, gained more weight, and breathed better than babies who didn’t.
“Skin-to-skin, or kangaroo care, is so important for so many reasons,” said Deborah Locicero, a nurse and lactation consultant at All Children’s Hospital in St. Petersburg, Florida. “It’s crazy.”
Locicero’s hospital is having a Kangaroo-a-thon in honor of Mother’s Day on Sunday and International Kangaroo Care day on May 15. They’re promoting the practice all week, and have already helped patients with it more than 100 times.
“It’s just a fun way to try to get these babies where they need to be,” she said, adding that fathers and other family members can help, too.
Kangaroo care can help promote bonding between new parents and their babies, Locicero said.
Benefits of skin-to-skin time can even help sick babies get discharged from the hospital faster, she said. For instance, the temperature of mothers’ chests can adjust to regulate their babies’ temperatures, Locicero said.