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Kangaroo Care: Infant Development & Parent-Infant Bonding

written by: Jacqueline Chinappi • edited by: Elizabeth Wistrom • updated: 2/14/2012

What is Kangaroo Care and how can it help increase maternal-infant bond? Here we take an in depth look at the skin-to-skin method used to benefit babies.

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    What is Kangaroo Care?

    Kangaroo Care is the skin-to-skin contact with mother or caregiver and child. The Kangaroo Care is a natural form of therapy which developed out of need. Parents became living incubators in Bogotá, Columbia when there was a shortage of incubators in one hospital. Babies’ body temperatures were stabilized when the baby was placed between the mother’s breasts in the kangaroo position. Often other family members such as fathers came in as well and took part in the Kangaroo Care. (Feldman, 2004)

    The Kangaroo Care method spread to other parts of the world by the early 1990’s including the United States and Europe. (Feldman, 2004) Studies have shown the favorable effects of kangaroo care on the functioning and behavior of premature infants. (Feldman, Weller, Eidelman, & Sirota, 2002) Studies had also shown that this method has also been used successfully with full term babies and could even alleviate the pain during medical procedures, such as immunizations. (Feldman, 2004) The Kangaroo Care is said to also strengthen the maternal-infant attachment bond.

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    What is Maternal-Infant Bond?

    A Maternal-Infant bond normally occurs during pregnancy and right after the baby is born. Many times the bond strengthens instantaneously as the baby is placed on the mother's stomach after birth. While some mothers may not feel the instant bond with their child, what about the mothers who can not bond with their child because of health reasons? Premature infants and babies with health problems are placed in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit following the delivery.

    These babies have to sleep in a separate nursery, are hooked up to many devices, and usually will not be released from the hospital with the mother. When this happens mothers feel as if they do not have a connection with their newborn child and many times feel hopeless. Imagine going home to an empty nursery wondering why you do not feel like a mother, even though you just gave birth? Kangaroo Care has been shown to help strengthen the maternal-infant bond, not only with premature births but with healthy births as well.

    In our next article we will take a look at studies which have shown the benefits of Kangaroo Care regarding maternal-infant bond as well as health benefits.

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    References:

    Feldman, R. (2004). Mother-Infant Skin-to-Skin Contact and the Development of Emotion Regulation. Advances in Psychology Research. Vol. 27, 113-131.

    Feldman, R., Weller, A., Eidelman, A.I., and Sirota, L. (2002). Comparison of Skin-to-Skin (Kangaroo) and Traditional Care: Parenting Outcomes and Preterm Infant Development. Pediatrics, 110 (1), 16.

Kangaroo Care and Bonding With Your Baby

Some say the maternal bond comes instantly, but what if this doesn't happen? What can you do? Kangaroo Care is a technique which has been shown to help strengthen the maternal-infant bond. Here we will take a look at what it is as well as why it is beneficial for the child as well as the mother.
  1. Kangaroo Care: Infant Development & Parent-Infant Bonding
  2. Kangaroo Care Studies Show Benefits