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Kangaroo Care Sessions

Kangaroo Care Sessions

To maximize the effectiveness of the Kangaroo Care sessions, parents and caregivers must have some basic knowledge.

Birth Kangaroo Care Competency Checklist by the USIKC (PDF)


If the baby is in condition to be moved or lifted to be weighed, s/he can be transferred to Kangaroo Care.  

The best person to hold the baby is the mother (hence the name "kangaroo MOTHER care", however, any chest (father, grandparents, friends, etc) is better than a mattress.


No less than one hour per session, and there is no maximum time - the more the better. Since a complete sleep cycle is one hour, it is NOT recommended that the babies are held on kangaroo if the parent cannot hold for at least that long (especially for small preemies as it may cause reverse effects). The stress of the transfer only is outweighed if the baby is held for at least one sleep cycle.


Rule of thumb: from birth to 3 months after due date.  That is why KMC is done for the "4th trimester."


What parents should know before they hold their babies in KC:

  • Learn the benefits of Kangaroo Care and to distinguish signs of stability of the baby (to request a kangaroo session) and warning signs of instability (to stop the kangaroo session).
  • Learn the how to do standing and sitting transfer.
  • Learn how to allow the baby to sniff and explore the mother's breasts, for breastfeeding/pumping, and numerous medical interventions while holding.
  • Know that parents may do the transfer alone, but ONLY after the training and approval of a professional knowledgeable in KMC.
  • Learn basic monitor readings, and know what and when to communicate with the staff.
  • Be prepare to be skin to skin - (no bra, shirt, etc.)  Over the baby, wear a wrap and comfortable clothing that easily opens in the front or a hospital gown.
  • Remove jewelry that might come in contact with the baby.
  • Refrain from using powder, lotion or perfume on the chest before doing skin to skin care. The baby needs to feel the parent's natural scent. 
  • Be free of any lesions or skin breakdown on the chest. 
  • Take care of their own personal needs (food, fluids, restroom, etc.).
  • Bring a camera and ask the medical staff to take pictures and/or videos.  After all, it is an important date.
  • With a wrap parents kangaroo for long periods of time, so plan accordingly. Parents are encouraged to sleep (as the baby will help the parent relax and take an effective nap), read (for them or to their children), rest, work or do a craft or scrapbook, write a journal, bring a computer/tablet/phone and watch a movie (don't forget the headphones). This is also a great time to read the manuals, books, and other resources provided by the hospital.
  • The adult can only sleep during KMC if the baby is safe and secured by something other than the parent's hands, AND there is another adult supervising the session.


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