There’s nothing quite like a bond between a mother and her newborn. But dads and partners can have a strong bond, too, and that bond can begin right after baby is born. Skin-to-skin contact, or kangaroo care, is when an unclothed baby is placed on a parent’s bare chest. There are many benefits of skin-to-skin contact for a baby, such as reducing stress, helping baby relax or sleep, promoting brain development, and regulating baby’s body temperature and blood sugar level.
Skin-to-skin also has a very special benefit for dads. As dad holds baby skin-to-skin, his body releases oxytocin, a powerful “feel good” hormone. This helps dad become more attuned to baby’s needs, more confident about his parenting skills and more interactive with his baby. Dads who have held their babies skin-to-skin report a stronger long-term bond.
Skin-to-skin is easy! You should be completely shirtless, and baby should be wearing only a diaper. Then, place baby semi-upright (not lying flat) directly against your bare chest. Cover with a blanket to keep warm. Baby’s head should be turned to one side with his neck straight, not flexed or extended, or toward your chest in a “sniffing” position.
But remember, safety first. Blankets should not go past baby’s shoulders. Make sure baby’s nose and mouth remain uncovered and you can see his face at all times. Also, be sure to minimize distractions. That means no scrolling on your phone or watching TV.
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