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Baby—Kangaroo Mother Care

Information for new parents

Kangaroo Mother Care means placing your baby directly onto bare skin between your breasts or on their father's chest while keeping them warm.

There are many benefits of Kangaroo Mother Care for you and your baby and these include:

  • enhanced bonding between baby and parents
  • helping to conserve your baby's energy
  • stabilising your baby's heart rate and breathing
  • stabilising your baby's temperature
  • increasing your baby's tolerance to noise and stress
  • increased milk supply
  • earlier and more successful breastfeeding
  • encouraging non-nutritive sucking
  • a daily vaccination against infections—mothers who Kangaroo Mother Care their babies produce antibodies in their milk that are specific to the hospital environment
  • helping with your baby's brain development
  • earlier discharge from hospital
  • making both babies and parents happy.

Suitable clothing that will allow easy access for Kangaroo Mother Care may include the following:

  • A button-up style shirt.
  • A shirt with a low neckline made of soft stretchy fabric.
  • A hospital gown.
  • You will need to remove your bra just prior to Kangaroo Mother Care—this allows your baby to have direct contact with your skin.

Kangaroo Mother Care

All babies who are stable even if they are receiving assistance with their breathing, with either a tube or nasal prongs, can have Kangaroo Mother Care. Let your baby's nurse know that you are available for a kangaroo cuddle whenever your baby's condition allows and together you can plan a suitable time.

If your baby is ready for a Kangaroo cuddle, it is important that you do not miss this special opportunity. If your breasts are full and you have time, you may wish to express prior to cuddling your baby.

When you and your baby are ready your nurse will assist you both into a comfortable and safe position. Your baby needs to be kept warm so you can either tuck your baby under your shirt or cover your baby with your hospital gown and a warm blanket. Cuddling your baby in this way for a minimum of one hour duration or longer is ideal as long as your baby remains stable and you are comfortable. You may also like to look at your baby's face using a hand held mirror.

During Kangaroo Mother Care:

  • your baby should be placed between your breasts or on their father's chest, in an upright position and then covered to keep them warm
  • your baby should be dressed in a nappy only
  • your baby should have their head turned to one side in a slightly upturned position—this assists with your baby's breathing and allows you to have eye contact with your baby
  • your baby's arms and legs should be flexed
  • your baby's abdomen should be at the level of your upper abdomen
  • your baby's nurse will teach you how to recognise any changes in your baby's behaviour or condition.

Some babies are too sick or unstable to have Kangaroo Mother Care—your baby's nurse will explain why if this is the situation for your baby.

Kangaroo Mother Care and breastfeeding

Kangaroo Mother Care 2

During Kangaroo Mother Care you may observe your baby showing feeding cues i.e. making sucking movements with their mouth, turning their head to one side or the other, opening their mouth (rooting) and looking for something to suck on. These cues may occur from when your baby is 30 weeks corrected gestational age. If you observe this behaviour during Kangaroo Mother Care, ask your nurse to assist you to position your baby at the breast. Your baby may attempt to self-latch, or lick or sniff the nipple. These are all encouraging signs of early feeding behaviours.


Neonatal Critical Care Unit
Level 6
Mater Mothers' Hospital
Raymond Terrace, South Brisbane Qld 4101
Telephone: 07 3163 8111
Fax: 07 3163 3980
Website: www.matermothers.org.au

Mater acknowledges consumer consultation in the development of this patient information.
Mater Doc Num: HOSP-011-03537
Last modified 28/10/2015.
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