One of my friend’s cousins was a preemie and when he was born, he was so small her mom says that he could have fit in the palm of his grandpa’s hand. Unfortunately preemies are more prone to developing disorders and are more vulnerable to disease and developmental issues as well. Another thing they often struggle with is becoming emotionally detached from their parents. To help with emotional detachment and to promote all types of growth in preterm children, a type of therapy called Kangaroo Care was developed that involves skin-to-skin contact between mother and child.

Susan Ludington-Hoefrom Case Western Reserve University's Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing says in an article published by the Journal of Newborns & Infant Nursing Reviews that "KC is now considered an essential therapy to promote growth and development of premature infants and their brain development.” The article also says however, that despite the proven effects of Kangaroo Care, the therapy is not widely used or promoted in many hospitals

Even though the therapy is not strongly sponsored by many hospitals, Ludington-Hoefrom still encourages hospitals to adopt the specialized neonatal therapy and practices in the intensive care units by making them into more calming places. Some of the KC features include positioning babies in ways to promote physical and motor development, decreasing the amount of time babies are handled to lessen their stress levels, and improving wake and sleep cycles to encourage a newborn’s natural ability to stabilize important bodily functions such as their heartbeat and the ability to synchronize physiologic function with their mother for optimum development.

The actual Kangaroo Care technique is when a mother nestles her child against her chest for at least one hour at a time. Ideally, a mother should use the technique for about 22 hours a day for the first six weeks after birth, and then eight hours a day after through the first year of life. This therapy is most widely practiced in Scandinavia and the Netherlands, and some mothers and fathers use the therapy 24 hours a day. Parents often use wraps to secure the baby during the day when they are released from the hospital. This is to keep the baby from falling and so that a normal daily routine can be maintained while the therapy is being employed. The prone position is best however, for the first six weeks or more because it helps the baby fall asleep faster and it also helps with brain development.

To learn more about Kangaroo Care and to learn how to use the therapy most effectively, read Ludington-Hoe’s “Kangaroo Care: The Best You Can Do to Help Your Preterm Infant.” It’s been widely used by mother and fathers since 1993.

Source: Case Western Reserve University (2013, July 10). 'Kangaroo care' offers developmental benefits for premature newborns. ScienceDaily.