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Kangaroo Care for Your Preemie

Kangaroo Care is a powerful form of therapy that requires direct skin-to-skin contact between parent and child. Deriving its name from the way a mother kangaroo keeps its joey (baby kangaroo) in her pouch for the first 6 months of its life, Kangaroo Care similarly requires that parents, whether the mommy or the daddy, hold their diapered preemie against their bare chest for a certain amount of time each day several times a day. Scientifically proven to be helpful to both parent and infant, this form of therapy is often recommended by preemie care professionals in Western countries.

Physical Benefits
• Preemies have a hard time staying warm because they lack the layer of fat that full-term babies have.
• Kangaroo Care helps preemies maintain their body heat by receiving warmth directly from their mothers or fathers.
• Kangaroo Care can help preemies develop a regular heart rate and breathing pattern, and is believed to reduce periods of apnea. 
• Babies receiving Kangaroo Care tend to grow and gain weight more quickly. 
• Research studies have found that preemies who undergo Kangaroo Care go to sleep twice as often, sleep more deeply, and are more alert and relaxed when they wake up.

Emotional Benefits
• By listening to the soothing rhythm of the parent’s heart beat and feeling the gentle rise and fall of the parent’s chest, the preemie can be soothed and will spend less time crying. 
• Kangaroo Care can build the parents’ confidence in handling their baby, particularly if the infant is prematurely born. 
• This type of preemie care helps establish a stronger bond between parent and child due to the closeness and direct contact it involves. 
• Kangaroo Care helps reduce stress in parents, as it eases their feelings of helplessness and worry with regards to their preemie’s condition, and it helps them get over their fear of touching their baby.

How to Do It
To begin a Kangaroo Care session, simply relax in a comfortable chair while your partner or a nurse brings your baby over to you and places your baby onto your bare chest. Once the baby is settled into a comfortable position, have your spouse or nurse place a blanket over the baby’s back, or help button your shirt around your baby. A typical session lasts between 30 minutes and 2 hours, and is usually done once a day, but you can do it more frequently if you feel the need to.

Kangarooing Tips
• Make sure that the room is warm, with room temperatures between 22 to 25. Avoid drafty areas. 
• Use a comfortable reclining chair if you have one, and use pillows for padding and support. 
• Try to begin the session after you’ve fed your baby, or even during the breast feeding session if you’re short on time. 
• Make sure you wear clothes that you can easily adjust based on your baby’s position. 
• Aim to “kangaroo” for at least an hour a day. 
• Shower or wash up before attempting to “kangaroo”, as preemies’ immune systems are weak and cannot fight off germs effectively.