Skin-to-Skin Contact: Why It’s Good for Babies
• For both babies and parents, skin-to-skin contact helps with bonding, relaxation, and other essential functions.
• Learn when and how to do skin-to-skin contact, and the positive benefits of it, especially for NICU infants.
• Skin-to-skin contact is not just for babies and moms, but all caregivers!
Have you heard of skin-to-skin contact? Many new and expecting parents may have seen this before, where baby is placed on a parent’s bare chest so the parent’s skin and the baby’s skin are touching. But you may wonder, why is it so important? And should you continue practicing this once baby comes home? Learn more below!
What is skin to skin contact and what does it help do?
Skin-to-skin contact occurs when baby is laid directly on a parent’s bare chest. In the moments after baby is born, physical contact is very important for baby. It helps them adapt to life outside the womb. It is also referred to as kangaroo care.
While contact is important for baby, it can also be beneficial for parents! There is evidence to show contact helps to:
- Calm and relax baby and parents
- Regulate baby’s heart rate, breathing and temperature
- Help with digestion and feeding
Skin-to-skin contact can be especially important for babies in the NICU. It can help to:
- Improve oxygen saturation
- Encourage feeding
- Help with growth
- Reduce time in the hospital
When should skin to skin contact be done?
Skin-to-skin contact can be very beneficial in the first hour after baby is born. That’s why babies are placed on their mother’s chest shortly after birth. It begins the bonding process and has benefits for mother and baby. After birth, it’s best to ask your healthcare provider how often they recommend contact with baby and for how long. This may vary based on baby’s needs. If baby is in the NICU, then the healthcare providers taking care of baby will give more information about when skin contact is safe and possible.
Is it just for babies and mothers?
A lot of research has been done on the impact of physical contact of babies and birth mothers, which is why you’ll often hear about the benefits for babies and mothers. But bonding through touch can be beneficial for both parents, as well as any caregivers that spend time with baby!
How can you do it?
Contact is best practiced when baby’s bare chest is against a parent or caregiver’s bare chest. Here are some tips for parents:
- Baby typically wears a diaper, hat and socks.
- Baby should be placed on the chest in the upright position, with their head rested to one side.
- Cover baby with a blanket to stay warm.
- Get yourself into a comfortable position so that you can remain relaxed and allow baby to relax and fall asleep.
- It’s best to keep your focus on baby while remaining relaxed.
- Try not to use a phone or other device during this time.
If you have any questions about skin-to-skin contact (such as how to do this with your baby and length of time to participate in this with your baby), speak to your child’s healthcare provider.