Kangaroo Care Project

Kangaroo Care on High Frequency Jet Ventilator

What is Kangaroo Care?

  • Kangaroo care is placing your diapered baby skin-to-skin on your bare chest.

Who is intended for this care?

  • All babies in the NICU, big or small, can benefit from Kangaroo Care.
  • Once a baby is stable in the NICU, kangaroo care can start.

Who can administer?

  • Moms and dads can both do kangaroo care.
  • Parents can assign a family member in their place for kangaroo care if they are not able to visit.

What are the Benefits of Kangaroo Care?

For the Baby:

  • Helps babies gain weight faster
  • Helps babies have less trouble breastfeeding
  • Helps babies sleep better
  • Helps to keep babies calm and cry less
  • Helps your baby keep their breathing rate steady and within the normal range
  • Helps your baby’s heartbeat stay healthy and regular
  • Helps regulate babies’ body temperature
  • Helps your baby have less stress and pain when being poked
  • Babies who participate in kangaroo care have a lower risk of infection.

For the Parents:

  • Mothers who give kangaroo care are less likely to have postpartum depression
  • Kangaroo care helps in increasing breast milk supply
  • Kangaroo care can help you feel more comfortable holding your baby and more confident taking your baby home.
  • Parents feel closer to their baby after giving them kangaroo care
  • Fathers who give kangaroo care report feeling more comfortable holding and caring for their newborn.

What are Misunderstandings about Kangaroo Care?

  • One of the most common misunderstandings about kangaroo care is that caregivers of babies on ventilators are unable to hold them or perform skin-to-skin contact. Babies on ventilators tolerate kangaroo care well and it is actually encouraged by your baby’s medical team. If your baby can be moved to a scale to be weighed, your baby can receive kangaroo care. Don’t hesitate to ask about kangaroo care if your baby is on a ventilator.

When can I start?

  • The sooner kangaroo care starts, the sooner your baby will benefit.
  • Your baby’s medical team will tell you when your baby is ready to receive kangaroo care.

How do I kangaroo?

  1. It’s best to do kangaroo care when you can spend at least an hour with a baby on your chest. You can do most nursing care can be done with the baby on your chest, but it’s best to wait until after nursing care for you and your baby to have two or three hours without interruption. An hour of care is the minimum time recommended.
  2. Babies prefer the smell of their mom and dad over artificial smells. Be sure to be free of any perfumes or cigarette smoke and take a shower before coming to hold your baby.  
  3. Try not to interrupt your kangaroo care time with your baby. You should use the bathroom, have something to eat, and make any phone calls before starting.
  4. Remove your bra and clothing above the waist. Your nurse can give you a kangaroo wrap to put on to help hold your baby in place. This will allow your arms to relax during care.
  5. Make sure your baby’s diaper is clean and dry.
  6. Your nurse can help you place your baby upright on your chest between your breasts with his or her head turned to the side. Your baby’s legs should be tucked up with a blanket across his/her back.
  7. Then sit back and recline in a kangaroo chair. If you want to be able to see your baby’s face, you can place a mirror on the chair to see him/her sleeping.
  8. We encourage doing kangaroo care with your baby for at least 60 minutes daily is encouraged. There is no limit though to the number of hours you can do it. If you cannot visit every day, ANY kangaroo care would be beneficial for your baby.
  9. Pump your breasts right after kangaroo care. You will often find you pump more milk then.
  10. Ask for one of our certified kangaroo care nurses to answer any questions you have. 

“The Benefits of Kangaroo Care” process improvement project has been co-developed by College of Health Sciences Physician Assistant Program, Kentucky Children’s Hospital and University of Kentucky Human Development Institute. Credits to UK Physician Assistant students, UK Kentucky Children Hospital NICU team and UK Faculty Media Depot for content creation and editing. Special thanks to NICU patients and their families. For questions please contact Principal Investigator of the project – Somu Chatterjee, MD, MPH, at somu.chatterjee@uky.edu and Co-PI Aparna Patra, M.D., (Neonatologist) at aparna.patra@uky.edu.