Those days when fathers did not contribute to taking care of their newborn babies are long gone. For millennial parents, nurturing and caring for the baby is a shared responsibility among the mother and father. Fathers have started actively looking after their babies, and it’s a refreshing change to witness. Unlike the early days when taking care of a newborn was solely a mother’s duty, things are quite different today. In fact, getting involved for the baby starts even before the baby is born. From the first sonogram to the point of delivery, dads are part and parcel of pregnancy. However, it is postnatal care where fathers will really have to brace themselves for some real heavy lifting, literally as well as metaphorically. Such assistance from new dads goes a long way in helping the mothers get some much-needed postpartum recovery.
As a parent, you would have probably heard about kangaroo care. It is a method of holding your baby close to your bare chest. Skin-to-skin contact not only helps you bond with your baby, but it’s also medically beneficial. Mothers are not the only ones who can do kangaroo care; fathers can too (1). So, if you’re a dad who wants to be more involved with your baby, here’s your chance. Let’s look at some of the benefits of kangaroo care:
Benefits Of Kangaroo Care
Kangaroo care is mostly done for newborn babies, though it’s excellent for slightly older infants as well. For babies, such intimacy is a great way to let them know that they are loved and adored. It’s great for both the mother and father to practice skin-to-skin contact with their infant as early as possible (2). Here are some of the benefits :
- Stabilizes baby’s heart rate.
- Improves baby’s breathing patterns.
- Improves oxygen saturation levels.
- Increased weight gain (more rapidly).
- Increased breast milk supply.
- Improves bonding with baby and increases closeness.
How Do You Do It Right?
Now that we’ve established that it’s a great technique to comfort your baby, let’s look at what you should keep in mind to do it right (1):
1. Wear A Shirt That Opens Out In The Front
Whether you’re a mom or a dad, practicing kangaroo care involves holding your baby close to your bare chest. This might require you to take off your shirt. A better way would be to wear a shirt with front buttons that you can easily unbutton whenever you are about to give your baby a nice warm hug.
2. Place Your Baby Upright
Hold your baby close to you and place them in an upright position. Ensure that your baby is wearing nothing except their diapers and hat. Hold them close to you to maintain skin-to-skin contact.
3. Warmth And Snuggles
If your body is not warm enough at the moment, your baby might catch a cold from the touch. In such situations, utilize a warm blanket. Wrap the blanket around your baby’s back when holding him for skin-to-skin contact. A warm kangaroo care hug is after all more comfortable than a cold one.
4. Multiple Kangaroo Care Sessions
As soon as your baby is born, plan kangaroo care sessions for both parents. Speak to the doctor, nurse, or caregiver in charge to schedule sessions of kangaroo care throughout the week. For the dads, hourly sessions for four or more days a week would help build a precious father-child intimacy (1).
5. Relax, Rest, And Enjoy
It’s essential to relax and focus on your baby while holding them close to you. Breathe normally and allow your little one to rest and relax on you. Remember that this is the time to let your baby snuggle and fall asleep on you; it isn’t the time to play with them. You’ll probably end up admiring their angelic faces as they drift off into their little dreamland. It’s a beautiful moment — enjoy it while it lasts.
Things To Avoid While Holding Your Baby
By now, you are well aware that kangaroo care is highly beneficial to your baby. You also know what you should do while practicing the method. So, let’s look at things you should avoid during kangaroo care. Here goes (1):
1. No Phone Zone
You’re spending time with your baby and holding them close to you to maintain skin-to-skin contact. This is a particular time of bonding and care. So, make sure that you put your phone away. Hold your baby and focus solely on them. Your screen time can wait. Having a phone while practicing kangaroo care can distract your child and pose a safety risk.
2. Best Of Health
You have to be in the pink of health when you’re providing your baby with skin-to-skin contact. If you’re unwell in any way, even if it’s just a cold or the common flu, it’s best to skip that session of kangaroo care. You don’t want your child to be falling sick because of you!
3. Be Mindful Of Your Chest Hair
If you happen to have a dense level of chest hair it’s likely that you keep it shaved. However, you gotta be careful not to cause poking and pinching to the soft skin of the baby with freshly appearing hair. It would be advisable to either keep it fully shaved on a daily basis or just let it grow out.
4. Practice Good Hygiene
Your skin should be clean and healthy. Ensure that you’ve taken a shower and are clean to hold your baby. Do not practice kangaroo care if you have open skin lesions, cold sores, or skin rashes. Avoid applying perfume or any other harmful chemicals before holding your baby. Another big no is smoking. Make sure that you don’t smoke before kangaroo care.
It’s excellent that both mother and father can do kangaroo care. It creates a special bond with your child and boosts their health too. So, what are you waiting for? Grab your baby (gently) and practice some good skin-to-skin contact so you and your baby can benefit from it. Have you given your baby some kangaroo care? Let us know in the comments below.