May 15 is Kangaroo Care Day, and Neve Spicer from We the Parents joins us to provide a science-backed look at the benefits of Kangaroo care. Learn more about what Kangaroo Care is and its benefits in the article below, and see the attached infographic for all the research-based evidence.
Editorial note: Undefining Motherhood does not advocate for a specific parenting style, including Kangaroo care. We do, however, care that our audience has access to reliable, research-based information they can trust about a variety of parenting styles. We want to empower you to parent confidently in whatever way works best for you and your family. We’re excited to share one of many early childhood options for Kangaroo Care Day.
What is Kangaroo Care Day?
Each May 15th is devoted to awareness of Kangaroo Mother Care (KMC), a newborn care practice which has been shown to reduce stress and facilitate bonding in infants and which plays an important role in helping premature babies to stabilize.
Our shared goal in entering parenthood is to give our babies the best start possible, and neuroscience has demonstrated that we hold the power to do so in our own arms.
The term Kangaroo Mother Care is often associated with skin-to-skin contact. This isn’t exactly accurate, but skin-to-skin care is a vital part of the KMC process.
In addition to as much uninterrupted skin-to-skin contact as possible, Kangaroo Mother Care includes the exclusive use of breastfeeding to nourish baby (if possible), along with an early discharge from the hospital (also when possible).
What are the benefits of Kangaroo mother care?
When continuous contact with a parent is provided, the stress separation placed on babies is minimized, which helps their heart rate and breathing to stabilize (“Kangaroo Care for the Preterm Infant and Family”). After one hour of contact, baby is able to maintain a full, healthy sleep cycle.
The minimization of stress, which can be harmful at any age, helps to shield babies from unnecessary negative impact on their metabolism and organs.
Babies also experience benefits to their social and emotional development due to a consistent feeling of safety.
Kangaroo care and prematurity
The care method is particularly beneficial for premature babies, who actually require skin-to-skin contact to stabilize.
Fascinating neuroscience backs the effectiveness of KMC, as it has been established that the sensory nervous pathways between a newborn and their parent connect when skin is touching skin.
This indicates that despite previous speculation to the contrary, the true benefits of Kangaroo Mother Care can not be achieved through clothing.
Clinical studies have also reinforced the benefits of using KMC when caring for preterm infants.
In one study, all of the premature babies who began skin-to-skin contact at birth were medically stable within six hours; in comparison, only half of their counterparts who had been placed in incubators were stabilized in the same time frame.
Want to learn more about the benefits of wearing your baby? Visit We The Parents for information detailing 23 science-backed benefits of babywearing, including some of those associated with KMC.