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Early years

17th May 2024

How kangaroo care benefits your baby

Niamh Ryan

What is kangaroo care, and why does it work?

Kangaroo care is all about skin-to-skin contact that mother and baby do to promote bonding and closeness during the newborn stage.

The term gets its adorable name from the animal itself, as mother kangaroos carry the joeys in their pouch for around six months, before the baby is ready to live independently outside it.

Kangaroo and its joey. Source: Unsplash

What is the science behind it?

According to the HSE, skin-to-skin contact increases the production of oxytocin, a hormone that promotes happy feelings and is often referred to as the ‘feel-good’ hormone.

This is also beneficial for both mums and dads as it creates a sense of protection and safety for the baby as well as closeness. By regulating the child’s breathing and stabilising their metabolism, it’s more likely to keep them comfortable and happy.

Skin-to-skin time also helps stimulate breastmilk by releasing the hormone prolactin. By creating a calm atmosphere, the baby’s heart rate becomes synchronised with the mother, encouraging the baby to nurse.

Mother breastfeeding. Source: Unsplash

When should you have skin-to-skin time?

It’s advised to have skin-to-skin contact with your baby once or twice a day for at least one hour each time.

Here are some guidelines to follow:

  • Sit in a calm and quiet room
  • Wear soft and comfortable clothing that open easily
  • Place a blanket over the baby to keep them warm
  • Avoid wearing perfume or cologne – it could cause irritation for the baby, but they also find comfort in your natural smell.

Kangaroo care typically takes place immediately after birth to bond mother and baby, but there is no specific age to stop at. It’s a perfect opportunity to hold your little one close and encourage growth and bonding.