Holding your baby in the NICU

kangaroo careSome newborn intensive care units (NICUs) will encourage you to hold your baby from birth onward. Other NICUs will want you to wait until your baby’s health is stable. Ask your NICU staff about its policy on kangaroo care.

Kangaroo care is the practice of holding your diapered baby on your bare chest (if you’re the father) or between your breasts (if you’re the mother), with a blanket draped over your baby’s back. This skin-to-skin contact benefits both you and your baby.

You may be a little nervous about trying kangaroo care. If your baby is very small or sick, you may be afraid you’ll hurt him. But you won’t. Your baby knows your scent, touch and the rhythms of your speech and breathing, and he will enjoy feeling that closeness with you. Kangaroo care can help your baby:
• Maintain his body warmth
• Regulate his heart and breathing rates
• Gain weight
• Spend more time in deep sleep
• Spend more time being quiet and alert and less time crying
• Have a better chance of successful breastfeeding (kangaroo care can improve the mother’s breastmilk production)

Kangaroo care has emotional benefits for you, too. It builds your confidence as you provide intimate care that can improve your baby’s health and well being. You are giving something special to your baby that only you can give. By holding your baby skin-to-skin, you will feel the experience of new parenthood and closeness to your baby. Kangaroo care is healing in many ways, for both you and your baby.

Kangaroo care is safe and beneficial, even if your baby is connected to machines. Whatever your situation, kangaroo care is a precious way to be close to your baby. You will cherish this time.

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8 Responses to “Holding your baby in the NICU”

  1. Mona Says:

    Oh how remember this…kangaroo care. I adore this picture because it brings back beautiful memories of my son. I’ll forever hold these precious memories in my heart.

  2. Alice Says:

    Kangaroo care is awesome. My son was born at 25 weeks, 10 years ago, and he was a very sick baby. He was two months old when I first for to hold him and his health started to get better. I was so nervous, but it was so worth holding him. Its an experience I will never forget.

  3. April Maria Says:

    I love the kangaroo care hold. Attached parenting (& babywearing) is inspired by this hold. I just want to emphasize that this hold is perfect for healthy newborns too! Keep up the great articles!

  4. Marty Mayberry Says:

    Our baby girl was born at 26 weeks (Adyson) her birth weight was 1lb 14oz. and as soon as were able to hold her our NICU Baystate Medical Center in Springfield,Ma had us Kangaroo and it truly made a different in our daughters care. She will be 5 this July…truly blessed and we thank everyone who took part in her care.

  5. Angela Herold Says:

    When my second premature son was born, I was not able to hold him for the first six weeks! How I cried when I held him for the first time. That was 17 years ago. He was born 2lb 10oz. He is now taller than me, and perfect! Hang in there NICU parents, and ask about the kangaroo care. I think its a wonderful idea!

  6. Deborah Says:

    My son was born early and weighed a pound and 8 ounces! After heart surgery, double hernia surgery and other plights… I was finally able to hold him. I held him just like this every chance I got. He is now the father of four adorable boys who look and act just like him. Healthy and beautiful, the whole family. Trust me… this helps not only the babies health but gives you more peace of mind!

  7. Kirsten Says:

    Kangaroo Care does not have “benefits” — Kangaroo Care provides the biological and physiologically NORMAL environment for our infants. We are mammals, the mother’s body is the natural, normal eco-system for our infants (especially our premature babies). We have normalized separation in our health care settings, but for all other mammals, separation from the mother is used to study stress response. Separating mother and baby has RISKS, keeping them together is the biological norm. Sometimes separation happens, and we need to mitigate the risks when it does. But to suggest that separation is normal, and keeping them together has “benefits” continues to perpetuate the practice of maternal-infant separation which we know is stressful for both mother and child.

  8. Maryeah Says:

    Kangaroo care was a joy for me. It gave me a chance to feel like I was my baby’s mother, and not just someone who visited him in the hospital. I agree that being separated is not natural, but when it was necessary, it was like a salve and a comfort for me, so I can only imagine what it might have felt like for him.