What is kangaroo care?

Kangaroo care (also called skin-to-skin) is a wonderful way for you to bond and cuddle with your baby. Wearing only a diaper, your baby will lay against your bare chest and feel your warmth and touch. They will smell your scent and hear your voice and heartbeat. Kangaroo care can be provided by a parent or other caregiver designated by you.

What are the benefits of kangaroo care?

  • Helps keep your baby warm
  • Stabilizes heart rate and breathing pattern
  • Decreases pain and helps baby relax
  • Improves feeding and growth
  • Supports brain development and more restful sleep
  • Helps prevent infection
  • Enhances bonding with baby
  • Boosts your confidence in caring for your baby and decreases your stress
  • Helps increase milk supply and breastfeeding duration

When and how can I provide kangaroo care?

Here are some tips to provide kangaroo care:

  • Begin kangaroo care as soon as possible. Your nurse will help you decide when your baby is ready for Kangaroo Care. Your baby may kangaroo as often and for as long as possible. Ideally, kangaroo care should happen around the time your baby receives care. In order to help with deep sleep, it is best for your baby to kangaroo for at least 1 hour.
  • Wear an open front shirt or robe and remove any clothing (including a bra, camisole or binder) that could come between skin-to-skin contact with your baby.
  • Take care of personal needs (such as food, drink or using the bathroom) before providing kangaroo care. Breastfeeding mothers should pump first.
  • Provide kangaroo care in a quiet, calm space. Your nurse will help provide a quiet and low stimulation environment during kangaroo care.

How will I get my baby into the best position?

Provide kangaroo care for your baby while sitting in a comfortable chair or recliner. Your nurse will help you transfer your baby to your bare chest in one of two ways. Your baby should be in an upright position with their knees tucked up and their cheek resting on your chest.

There are two ways to get your baby into position – the standing transfer and the sitting transfer. Your baby’s nurse will help you learn about and decide which way is best for you and your baby. Watch a video demonstrating the standing and sitting transfers.

What will I do with my baby while kangarooing?

The most important thing you can do is recline, relax and enjoy this precious time with your baby. Here are some other tips to enjoy kangarooing:

  • Silence your cell phones so you and your baby can have undisturbed time together.
  • Look at their beautiful face in the mirror and give them one of your fingers to grasp onto.
  • Your baby will feel the pleasant touch of your open hand against their back.
  • Quietly talk, sing or read a book for short periods.
  • It is important to also allow time for your baby to rest. Your baby may stay awake for a bit or fall into a deep and restful sleep.

How do I do a sitting and standing transfer?

Learn more about how to do a sitting or standing transfer for kangaroo care here.

A note for breastfeeding moms…

This is a great opportunity to begin your breastfeeding journey with your baby. If your baby is not ready for breastfeeding, your nurse and lactation consultant are here to help you with “lick and learn” sessions until your baby is ready to breastfeed. “Lick and learn” sessions are times when your baby practices how to breastfeed but does not receive breastmilk. These sessions are non-nutritive, which means they do not provide nutrition until your baby is ready. Mothers who kangaroo may experience an increase in milk production and find it easier to transition to breastfeeding.

We want you to enjoy providing kangaroo care for your baby. Please ask your nurse if you have any questions.

Rev. 12/2021. Mass General for Children and Massachusetts General Hospital do not endorse any of the brands listed on this handout. This handout is intended to provide health information so that you can be better informed. It is not a substitute for medical advice and should not be used to treat any medical conditions.