Feb 01

Skin-To-Skin Time Helps Parents And Baby

We recommend that you hold your baby skin-to-skin every day throughout your baby’s NICU stay for at least an hour at a time- but the longer the better.

Having direct skin-to-skin time with your baby provides benefits to both you, your partner and your baby in the following ways:

  • Skin-to-skin contact stabilizes your baby’s heart rate and breathing.

  • Helps maintain body temperature.
  • Improves your baby’s weight gain.
  • Calms, comforts and promotes restful sleep for your baby.

  • Babies who experience skin-to-skin contact learn to breastfeed more quickly.
  • Helps your infant acquire healthy bacteria from your skin.
  • Improves your milk production.

  • Promotes attachment and bonding.
  • Promotes better breastfeeding later.
  • Babies who have skin-to-skin time are calmer, happier babies.
Check out this wonderful video about ‘Skin-to-Skin Care For Your Premature Baby’.

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Tips For Skin-To-Skin With A Tiny Baby

Wear a loose-fitting, button-down or zip front shirt.

Ask for help transferring baby until you learn how to do it safely.

Get comfortable in a chair near baby’s bed.

Talking or singing to your baby can help their hearing development. Research shows that babies who hear mom’s voice have better development of the hearing part of the brain.

Every day is a new day for your baby, so when you call the unit in the morning, remind your baby’s nurse that you want to do skin-to-skin.

Your baby will soon learn it is pleasurable and will relax, settle down and grow.

Plan your skin-to-skin time around your pumping schedule.

When your baby is little or ill, skin-to-skin time may require some help.

If your baby is too small or fragile to be picked up, ask your baby’s nurse about ‘resting hands,’ also called containment. This is when you lightly rest your hands directly on your baby.

Because small preemies may be sensitive to too much stimulation, you should avoid stroking or moving your hands for the time being.

Premature infants will relax better with just a gentle, steady touch.

Watch these great videos about skin-to-skin.

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What If My Baby Has A Breathing Tube Or Is On Nasal CPAP?

Skin-to-skin can be done if your baby has a breathing tube or is on nasal CPAP.

Your baby must be stable enough to tolerate being moved to your chest, so ask your nurse when your baby will be ready.

Moving your baby can be a little tricky if there are a lot of wires or tubes, so a nurse and respiratory therapist will help you.

As your baby matures and you gain confidence, you will learn to do this on your own.

Can Others Hold My Baby Skin-To-Skin?

Yes! Definitely encourage your partner to practice skin-to-skin as well, it is good for baby and your partner.

Family and friends should also be encouraged to sit with baby and be encouraged to do skin-to-skin.


Lisa Stellwagen MD, FAAP Professor of Clinical Pediatrics at UC San Diego Health
‘Skin to Skin Care For Your Premature Baby’ video includes families at Boston Medical Center and was funded by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. For questions or comments about video, contact Dr. Meg Parker, Margaret.parker@bmc.org
Special Thanks To Global Health Media Project For Sharing Their Important Work Around The Globe.