Alice Allan writes about the importance of kangaroo care for premature babies

When babies are born early, when they are sick and need to be in hospital, parents desperately want to be near them. In my work in hospitals in Ethiopia and the UK as a lactation consultant, I have met mothers and fathers spending countless hours by their child’s cot, helping with feeds, and when they could, holding their babies next to their skin, in kangaroo care. 

What is kangaroo care?

Kangaroo care is a method of holding a baby that involves skin-to-skin contact. The baby, who is naked except for a nappy, is placed in an upright position against a parent’s bare chest. This helps fragile babies survive, develops protection against allergies and infection all while regulating breathing, temperature and heart rate. Ideally it should be with the baby’s mother, for as well as helping her bond and breastfeed, she is his ‘niche’.