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KANGAROO CARE AND PREMATURE BABIES

by Chris Molnar

Premature babies start life with special challenges, but kangaroo care can increase their overall growth rate and help in their development. Slings and wraps are an excellent way to compliment this type of care, as they mimic and simulate being in mom’s womb. The warmth, closeness, and skin-to-skin contact that is possible with these baby carriers all help a premature baby thrive. The security of the baby carrier and fully participating in the baby’s care can turn a time of crisis and anxiety into one of deep bonding with their newborn. Being involved in the nurturing and caring of baby in the hospital and the practical skills learned will give parents greater confidence so they can care for their baby after they go home.

KANGAROO CARE

What is kangaroo care? It is the practice of holding baby, head up, between mom’s breasts or on dad’s chest. The infant is dressed only in a diaper and a hat, and rests skin to skin with their parent or caregiver. Baby is then tucked into the parent’s shirt or covered with a receiving blanket. This intimate contact allows baby to feel his or her parent’s heartbeat, warmth, and breathing. Studies show that if baby gets too cold, the mother’s chest temperature will actually increase to warm baby up. If baby gets too warm, mom’s skin will cool slightly. This “thermal synchronicity” only proves the strong bond between a newborn and mother. One hour with dad poses no problems with baby, either.

A baby wrap or sling is an ideal way to practice kangaroo care. If the neonatal nursery where you will be giving birth is familiar with this form of caring, the nurses will help you get the baby situated comfortably on you, including the use of any IV and oxygen tubes or any other medical assistance devices your baby might need in the first few days. Research has shown that as soon as a preemie’s health is stable, they benefit immensely in many ways by being held by their parents for several hours a day. The benefits include a more stable heart rate, a reduction in oxygen requirements, faster weight gain and deeper sleep patterns. Kangaroo care also helps premature babies breastfeed sooner and helps mom develop a good milk supply.

WHICH SLINGS AND WRAPS ARE BEST FOR CARRYING PREEMIES?

Most slings work great as premature baby carriers, but unpadded slings are probably easier to adjust to fit your little newborn. Pouch-style carriers, including some made of fleece, are commonly used and allow the baby to nurse without any dramatic position changes. A sling also takes the weight of the baby off mom’s arms and lets her eat, drink, or do other quiet activities while caring for her baby, who remains warm and content against her skin.

The Moby Wrap is also commonly recommended to parents of preemies. It is made from super-soft fleece or silk fabric, making it very comfortable to hold your baby close for long periods of time. The Peapod CuddlyWrap is another good choice, and the baby’s head, neck, spine and hips receive the support they need. There’s no need to re-tie the wrap each time you use it – simply slide it over your head.

BABY SLINGS – AN ALL AROUND GREAT OPTION

Even if you have a full-term, healthy baby, the benefits of wearing your baby are numerous. Newborn baby carriers offer the security, warmth and close intimacy infants crave. Crying episodes are shorter, baby has easy access to feed when necessary, and as the mom or dad, you can share your day bonding with your new little one. A sling can be used right through the toddler years, so it’s a good investment for the long-term nurturing of your child.

About the Author: Chris is a successful freelance writer, new father and editor of www.babyinasling.com. Find out more about infant sling carriers, tips on wearing your baby and how to find the right sling for you.

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