Kangaroo Care as a Neonatal Therapy

Susan M. Ludington-Hoe RN, CNM, PhD, FAAN


NAINR. 2013;13(2):73-75. 

In This Article

Abstract and Introduction


A review of the effects of Kangaroo Care on preterm infants is presented according to how Kangaroo Care, skin-to-skin, chest-to-chest contact between the infant and a parent, addresses the six key elements of a developmentally appropriate therapy. Kangaroo Care has been found to satisfy all requirements and have both short- and long-term beneficial effects, with recent findings showing select sustained effects for 10 and 16 years. Kangaroo Care is now considered a fundamental component of developmentally appropriate therapy for hospitalized preterm infants.


The neonatal intensive care unit has changed over the decades in terms of how an infant's development has been protected and promoted. Health professionals today are aware of the effects of the macro-environment (ambient noise, activity, lighting, etc.) and the micro-environment (individualized therapies for each patient) on the infants and plan therapies that are developmentally appropriate and individually tolerated. In addition, inclusion of family members is now generic to developmental care therapies. Six key elements of appropriate therapies are as follows: (1) modify the macro- and micro-environments so they are calm and soothing for the infant and his/her family; (2) position the infant in ways that support physiologic stability and motor development; (3) monitor all handling of the infant to minimize adverse physiologic responses and provide periods of rest; (4) promote infant self-regulation; (5) promote state regulation by providing care in tune with the infant's sleep wake cycles and a quiet soothing environment; and (6) evaluate all care giving events in terms of infant stress.[1] This paper presents how one therapy, Kangaroo Care, or skin-to-skin, chest-to-chest placement of the newborn with a parent, ideally the mother, satisfies the six elements.