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Why experts recommend skin-to-skin contact for infants

If your family is expecting a child in the near future, there is a good chance you've been actively reading about all the latest in care techniques and methods for raising your child in the safest and most loving environment possible.

Mothers and fathers have long known how effective cuddling is to help comfort and calm an infant. But regularly practicing skin-to-skin contact, also referred to as Kangaroo Care, takes this cuddling one step further and offers even greater benefits. It’s been incorporated by hospitals nationwide and is becoming the standard of care for baby immediately after birth and beyond.

Additionally, skin-to-skin is no longer just a hospital practice. The American Academy of Pediatrics and The World Health Organization recommend the practice to be continued throughout the postpartum period. Holding a baby close doesn’t just help warm and stabilize the child, it can advance his overall physical health, psychosocial and developmental growth.

Skin-to-skin contact is a holding technique where you hold your child vertically against your bare chest. The idea is to put your child's full chest surface, from his belly button to the top of his sternum, in full contact with your skin.

Full chest-to-chest contact without any clothing or underwear is critical when practicing skin-to-skin. Fabric will act as a barrier and the benefits will not be delivered.

Why is it so critical to be bare chest to bare chest? The outer layer of skin over the front of the chest is packed with nerve fibers that can release hormones that eliminate stress responses in the brain and body. These extremely sensitive nerves respond only to pleasing human touch. When the nerves are stimulated, it sends a message of pleasure directly to the brain. In response, the brain produces a hormone called oxytocin, known as the feel good hormone. This hormone is responsible for the feeling of calmness, contentedness, connectedness, happiness and love. When oxytocin is released, it acts upon several different systems throughout the body, delivering incredible benefits for both parent and child.

The benefits of skin-to-skin contact go way beyond developing a bond with your newborn. When this contact occurs for an uninterrupted 60 minutes, your child can go through one full sleep cycle. During that sleep cycle, the following benefits occur:

Benefits for your child:

* Accelerates brain development

* Regulates body temperature

* Calms, soothes, reduces crying and stress

* Improves quality of sleep

* Enhances the immune system

* Stimulates digestion and weight gain

* Synchronizes the heart rate and breathing

* Encourages breastfeeding behavior

Benefits for you:

* Reduces risk of postpartum depression

* Increases milk production

* Speeds delivery recovery time

* Promotes psychological well being

Once you and baby are home, it can be difficult to find 60 uninterrupted minutes of skin-to-skin contact two to three times times a day throughout those early weeks. This is especially true if there are other children at home who require attention. To address this challenge, the NüRoo Pocket was designed, a patent-pending babywearing shirt that allows you and baby to be skin-to-skin, while offering full coverage and the opportunity to be up and on your feet, hands-free. It is an ideal newborn carrier making it easy to carry your child while at the same time taking advantage of the physiologic benefits of skin-to-skin contact.

Want to learn about the science behind skin-to-skin or the NüRoo Pocket? Visit http://www.nuroobaby.com.

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