Sunday, January 17, 2010

Benefits of Kangaroo Care

Kangaroo Care is a wonderful way to bond with your baby and improve your baby’s health and well-being. There are numerous benefits associated with Kangaroo Care.

My husband and I did Kangaroo Care with our daughter nearly 24 hours a day for the first week of her life. We can’t say enough good things about the experience.

This blog will discuss the benefits of Kangaroo Care, and why Kangaroo Care works.

As I read and research Kangaroo Care, many of the benefits seem to center around an amazing feature of the female body. When a baby, wearing only a diaper, is placed between its mother’s bare breasts, the mother’s breasts change temperature in order to help her baby maintain its optimal body temperature. For example, if the baby begins to get a bit chilly, the mother’s breasts will warm up. If the baby is too warm, the mother’s breasts will cool down. It sounds a bit unbelievable, but it’s true.

Why is this important? If you think about it, a baby that isn’t using his energy to regulate his body temperature is able to use that energy elsewhere. As a result, babies participating in Kangaroo Care are shown to gain weight more quickly and have more rapid brain development.

Kangaroo Care gives the baby constant, easy access to the breast. This results in improved weight gain and better success and confidence in breastfeeding for both mother and baby.

Men do not have the ability to regulate body temperature like women and obviously cannot breastfeed, but there are other benefits of Kangaroo care that are able to be achieved by fathers. For this reason, men should also be encouraged to provide Kangaroo Care to their infants.

Kangaroo Care from either parent usually results in an improvement in breathing patterns, a more regular heart rate, and better oxygen saturation levels. When a baby is placed on the parent’s chest, the baby can hear the breathing and heartbeat of the parent. This stimulates the baby to have a similar breathing pattern and heart rate. In other words, the baby mimics its parent.

Additional benefits of Kangaroo Care include the following: longer periods of restful sleep, less crying, and longer alert periods.

To learn more about Kangaroo Care and our experience with it, visit my other blog.

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