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The Benefits of Kangaroo Care and Baby Wearing

Dec 05th, 2013 | by Lynette LaScala
Lynette LaScala

Lynette LaScala

December 05th, 2013

Every year there are 15 million babies born at or before 37 weeks. And sadly about 1 million of them will die. Around 75% of “babies who die each year from complications associated with prematurity could have been saved with cost-effective interventions, even without intensive care facilities”. This includes “kangaroo care” and “baby-wearing” as it could cut global death and disability rates from premature birth (bbc.co.uk).
Kangaroo care is a way of holding a baby so that there is skin-to-skin contact between the parent/carrier and baby, ideally tummy-to-tummy. Baby wearing, on the other hand, is basically the same thing, just without the skin-to-skin contact and with the assistance of a cloth carrier like a Moby Wrap. They both help restore the bond between the mother and infant after a sudden separation during birth, especially premature births. It is one of the best things a parent can do for optimal structural, neurological, physiological, and emotional development for a baby (onyababy.com).
Research has shown that the close physical contact with the parent can help to stabilize a preterm baby’s heartbeat, temperature, and breathing. It also shows that premature babies who experience this type of care sleep for longer periods, gain more weight, cry less, have longer periods of alertness, and earlier hospital discharge. It lowers the risk for illness, infection, and disease. It also increases breast-feeding with improved milk supply, enhances maternal satisfaction and confidence, and allows parents to be hands free (med.umich.edu)!
A newborn baby’s spine is in a c-shape, just like they were inside the womb. As they grow and get stronger, the baby’s spine develops into the proper curve. This develops during the baby’s first year and is very important for developing the baby’s spinal cord and nervous system as well as their spinal joins and hip joints. When they are “worn” correctly, gravity helps put babies in a better biomechanical position for spinal and muscular development (onyababy.com).
Many babies are carried around in car seats. Instead of gravity helping to develop a proper spinal curve, like during baby wearing, laying a baby in a car seat begins to straighten those developing curves. And with extended amount of time on their backs, babies can start to develop plagiocephaly (or the flattening of the bones of the skull) causing deformation. Both of these can affect proper spinal joint alignment and weight bearing biomechanics, ligament development and strength around the spine and hip joints, muscle tone and biomechanical development, and neurological development of the child (onyababy.com).
From a developmental aspect, baby-wearing/kangaroo care is far more superior and beneficial than car seats. It allows both moms and dads to connect on an intimate physiological and emotional level. Car seats are fine for short-term use, but just as the name suggests, it’s a car seat. So keep that car seat in the car!

Reference:

  • http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-24924955
  • http://www.med.umich.edu/nicu/pdf/C.3KangarooCare.pdf
  • http://onyababy.com/blog/2012/06/benefits-of-babywearing-vs-carseat-carrying/
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