Warm welcome

Kangaroo care, a technique for soothing premature babies with skin-to-skin contact, can help calm babies born at full term as well, a study has concluded. In kangaroo care, parents are encouraged to hold their newborn children against their bare chests for extended periods. The technique, developed in Bolivia, has been found to reduce crying and agitation among premature babies in neonatal intensive care units. Neonatal centres are clearly stressful environments, but all children go through difficult transitions from the womb to the world, said Dr. Sari Goldstein Ferber of the University of Haifa in Israel, lead author of the study. Newborns generally take a week or two to develop what are known as self-regulatory skills like finger sucking that help them cope with unexpected or unpleasant stimuli, she said.

In the new study, published in the journal Paediatrics, 47 healthy full-term newborns were either put in a nursery crib about 15 minutes after birth, the standard practice in most maternity wards, or were given to their mothers for an hour of kangaroo care before going to the nursery.

Nurses began recording the babies' actions four hours after they were born. Over the next hour, the babies who had been held slept more, fussed and cried less than the others, and made fewer startled motions. But most mothers studied found the technique soothing for the child and themselves. Judging by their experience, she said, "the best time is after the evening feeding, before the daily bath."

(Courtesy: New York Times)

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