The benefits of kangaroo care – skin-to-skin contact between parents and their preemies – can’t be overstated. While NICUs used to recommend that preemies spend a lot of time resting in their isolettes, it’s now common for doctors and nurses to advise moms (and dads) of premature babies to practice kangaroo care when preemies are stable. In fact, even preemies who need a mechanical ventilator or who have acute health issues can benefit from short skin-to-skin sessions with mom or dad!
What do the benefits of kangaroo care look like? Here are 15 really good reasons to practice kangaroo care in the NICU and even after you’ve made the transition home with your preemie:
- Kangaroo Care is shown to have a lasting and positive impact on brain development in preemies.
- Studies show that kangaroo care has significant long-term protective effects – even 20 years after the intervention.
- Kangaroo care has been associated with reductions in hyperactivity and other negative behaviors in preemies throughout childhood.
- It has also been associated with better social skills and higher self esteem as preemies grow.
- In the NICU, kangaroo care can help regulate heart rate, breathing and temperature in preemies.
- Studies show kangaroo care can improve head growth and weight gain.
- Preemies who get kangaroo care spend more time being quiet when awake and less time crying.
- They also sleep better and more deeply.
- And they tend to be more willing to try breast feeding and to be successful.
- Which is good because moms who kangaroo their preemies tend to produce more breast milk.
- Parents who practice kangaroo care feel closer to their preemies and less stressed about the challenges of prematurity.
- And it may help prevent or lessen the severity of post-partum depression in moms.
- Kangaroo care can reduce hospital re-admission for preemies and decrease hospital stays, lowering medical costs.
- Skin to skin contact stimulates overall physical development and seems to lead to better organ function in preemies
- It is also a natural form of pain relief for preemies and can help reduce the possibility of infection in the NICU.
But most importantly, kangaroo care is so often one of the things that preemie parents look forward to the most in the NICU! It’s something both moms and dads can do to help care for their preemies – which is especially important during those early days in the NICU when parents may feel powerless to do anything to positively impact a preemie’s life.