Benefits of Kangaroo Care

Benefits for the parents include:

  • Enhanced attachment and bonding (Tessier et al., 1998).
  • Resilience and feelings of confidence, competence, and satisfaction regarding baby care (Tessier et al., 1998; Conde Agudelo, Diaz Rossello, & Belizan, 2003; Kirsten, Bergman, & Hann, 2001).
  • Increased milk volume, doubled rates of successful breastfeeding and increased duration of breastfeeding (Mohrbacher & Stock, 2003).
  • Profoundly beneficial for adoptive parents with critically ill preterm infants (Parker L, Anderson GC. , 2002).

Benefits for the babies include:

  • Kangaroo Care reduces neonatal mortality (Conde-Agudelo et al, 2011).
  • Lessens incidence and severity of infection (Charpak N, Ruiz-Pelaez JG, Figuero de Calume Z, Charpak Y., 1997).
  • Accelerated autonomic and neurobehavioral development (Feldman R, Eidelman, 2003).
  • Promotes self-regulation in premature infants: sleep wake cyclicity, arousal modulation, and sustained exploration (Feldman R, Weller A, Sirota L, Eidelman A., 2002).
  • Consistently high and stable oxygen saturation levels, lower airway resistance, fewer apnea episodes, and an increased percentage of quiet sleep (Ludington- Hoe, Ferreira, & Goldstein, 1998).
  • Stable temperature within normal thermal zone, heart rate, and respiratory rate (Ludington-Hoe et al., 2010).
  • Reduced crying associated with painful procedures (Kostandy R, Ludington-Hoe SM, 2008).
  • Breast milk is readily available and accessible, and strengthens the infant’s immune system.
  • The maternal contact causes a calming effect with decreased stress and rapid quiescence (McCain, Ludington-Hoe, Swinth, & Hadeed, 2005; Charpak et el., 2005).
  • Reduced physiological and behavioral pain responses (Ludington-Hoe, Hosseini, & Torowicz, 2005).
  • Increased weight gain (Charpak, Ruiz-Pelaez, & Figueroa, 2005).
  • Enhanced attachment and bonding (Tessier et al., 1998).
  • Positive effects on infant’s cognitive development (Feldman, Eidelman, Sirota, & Weller, 2002).
  • Less nosocomial infection, severe illness, or lower respiratory tract disease (Conde-Argudelo, et. al., 2003).
  • Restful sleep (Ludington-Hoe et al., 2006).
  • Earlier hospital discharge (London et al., 2006).
  • Reduced risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) (see
  • Normalized infant growth of premature infants (Charpak, Ruiz-Pelaez, & Figueroa, 2005).
  • Good intervention for colic (Ellett, Bleah, & Parris, 2002).
  • Possible positive effects in motor development of infants (Penalva & Schwartzman, 2006).
  • The critical stimuli to which the baby is exposed during KC are:
    Vestibular: the chest movement of the breathing of the parent and walking (if allowed)
    Tactile: the skin and natural warmth of the parent on the bottom (chest), on the sides (breast of mother), and the back (Kangaroo Zak™)
    Olfactory: the scent of the parent and the maternal breast milk.
    Auditory: by the voices and heartbeat of the parent.

What is the Kangaroo Zak?

The Kangaroo Zak™ is the only device designed with the sole objective of facilitating safe, prolonged, and effective kangaroo care sessions in the NICU and post-partum.

It provides comfort to the baby and virtually eliminates the risk of accidental falls and slipping that causes dislodging of medical equipment. It also facilitates immediate access to the baby in case of emergency and is the only device in the market that facilitates hands-free holding regardless of the size of the baby.

During this continuous contact, the baby (and parent) can reach deep sleep necessary to heal, grow, and develop .

The Kangaroo Zak™ is a soft, breathable, stretchy and strapless top made with natural fibers that wraps around the torso of the adult and closes on the side with a zipper.

Two adjustable sizes are available: Size 1 adjusts to Small / Medium / Large and Size 2 adjusts to XL / 2XL / 3XL.

The Kangaroo Zak is patented and successfully incorporates ergonomic principles with the philosophy of the Kangaroo Care Method to provide the most effective environment for the baby and for the parent so that the sessions are safe and prolonged and the benefits and results maximized.

Made for babies in the hospital (babies at home can only use the Kangaroo Zak with the proper training and instructions from the professional) NICU and post-partum.

Results achieved by the consistent use of the Kangaroo Zak to facilitate Kangaroo Care:

  • Supports neurobehavioral organization and physiologic stability of the preterm infant.
  • Improve maternal breast feeding outcomes.
  • Reduce infant and maternal stress.
  • Support family centered care.
  • All the benefits of Kangaroo Care in a consistent, safe, and effective manner.

The Kangaroo Zak ™ was designed by Yamile Jackson, a PhD in ergonomics and human factors engineering and a kangaroo mother herself. Since 2010, she has been certified as a Kangaroo Caregiver Professional and is currently an instructor for the Kangaroo Care Certification Course offered by the United States Institute for Kangaroo Care.

Checklist for KC Professionals and Parents

Checklist for the medical staff in NICU:

-Explain to the adult the benefits of the Kangaroo Care Method for preemies and for parents.

-Explain the proper Kangaroo Position.

-Plan all  placements of medical devices on the baby/bed so that they are easy to handle during transfer.

-Confirm the eligibility of the baby and the parent and the contraindications.

-Make sure that the adult wears the Kangaroo Zak without anything underneath (bra, etc.) and with the zippers to the side, away from the baby.  Over it s/he may wear clothing that easily opens in    the front or a hospital gown.

-Have blankets available if needed.

-Confirm that the adult goes through the checklist below.

-Decide with the adult if you will do sitting or standing transfer considering the medical condition of the baby and of the adult.


Checklist for the adult/parent:

-Remove jewelry that might come in contact with your baby.

-Refrain from using powder, lotion or perfume on your chest before doing skin to skin care. Your baby needs to feel your natural scent.

-Wear the Kangaroo Zak without anything underneath (bra, etc.) and with the zippers to the side.  Over it you may wear clothing that easily opens in the front or a hospital gown.

-Take care of your own personal needs (pumping, food, fluids, and bathroom).

-Notify your loved ones that you will be out of touch for a several hours (unless you plan to use your phone)

-Bring a camera and ask the medical staff to take pictures and/or movies.  After all, it is an important time for you and  your baby.

-If you have something to do,  you will kangaroo longer, so plan accordingly: you are encouraged to use a hand-held mirror to look at your baby, or you can sleep, rest, work, craft or scrapbook, write a journal, watch a movie (don’t forget your headphones), or chat with  friends because you will have your hands free and the Kangaroo Zak keeps the baby safe and contained.  Ask other parents and the medical staff for other ideas and what is accepted at your hospital.

-This is also a great time to read the manuals, books, and other resources provided by the medical or nursing staff.

Audiology and Speech-Language Therapy student training in a KMC unit

“The final-year students from the Department of Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology, University Pretoria, South Africa, are involved in the KMC unit of Kalafong Hospital. This year, there are 61 students (33 Audiology and 28 Speech-Language Therapy) participating in rotating groups. The KMC unit was started in 1999 and serves mothers of prematurely born infants from the surrounding urban, semi-urban, and township areas. Over 60% of premature births globally occur in Africa and South Asia. Extra care for small babies, including KMC, could save an estimated 450,000 babies each year (WHO, 2012).

The students provide feeding therapy to the preterm infants in the ward and highlight developmentally appropriate stimulation. The mothers in the ward also receive a weekly talk by the students on a pertinent topic such as feeding difficulties, communication and hearing milestones and otitis media.

At the follow-up clinic, the students conduct early communication, feeding and hearing screenings. The students train the mothers to encourage communication and listening development using books, toys and stimulation techniques. Mothers are given hand-outs that they may refer back to at a later stage. Therefore, information is generally given for the range of birth to approximately two years of age. As South Africa has 11 official languages; home language is prioritized and hand-outs are given in the more common languages of English, isiZulu and Sepedi when possible.

Many South Africans struggle with poverty and nearly two thirds (58%) of children in South Africa live below the poverty line (R604/month or approximately $42/month) (Child Gauge, 2013). Great effort is taken to show mothers how they may use resources already in their homes to provide stimulation. Mothers are shown how to make books and toys for language stimulation and how to adapt these as the child grows. Language stimulation is also focused on as premature infants are at risk for developing communication difficulties which may affect later academic ability. Early communication intervention not only treats existing difficulties but also educates mothers on stimulation from a young age in order to prevent or reduce difficulties.

During the practicals, the supervisor oversees the students, monitors interactions with the mothers and supports the students in the more difficult-to- treat cases. Working in the ward teaches the students how to interact with the team including nurses, doctors, dietitians and occupational therapists. In 2012 a database was started in order to track the families the students have treated. As of the end of 2015; approximately 1500 mothers and babies have been seen by the Audiology and Speech-Language Therapy students from the University of Pretoria. The benefits of the practical were demonstrated when a mother approached the students and supervisor on the day of her discharge home with her baby. She had collected all the hand-outs from her 8 week stay. She informed us that she was going to copy the hand-outs and give them to her friends, family, mothers and the preschools near her. This moment demonstrated the ability to touch many families with one mother.

On completion of the module, the students receive a practical mark and write a reflection report evaluating their ability to apply their theoretical knowledge in a clinical setting. This module provides experience as the students enter hospitals and clinics the following year for their compulsory community service year. The students remark that they develop skills for interacting with mothers as equal team members and for providing early communication intervention for preterm infants. Many students have gone on to the either start KMC units at their community service hospitals or to encourage a greater focus on early intervention.”

~As told by Professor Alta Kritzinger and Ms. Renata Mosca

Professor Kritzinger and Ms. Mosca form part of the early intervention team at the Department of Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology at the University of Pretoria in South Africa, training students in the assessment and treatment of early communication disorders in the Clinic for High-Risk Babies (CHRIB) using a family based approach. Both are Hanen-certified therapists and are involved in encouraging Early Intervention in a variety of South African contexts and communities.


We want YOU to share your nurturing stories!

Let us feature you! Send us your story so we can feature it either in our newsletter, blog, or website.
We are also looking for regular authors. Please send us an email at if you are interested.
Topics could include:
  • anything about Kangaroo Care, such as your stories or opinions
  • a loving moment that you want to share
  • goals or lessons that you learned
  • something that helped you nurtured the baby or a tip to share with others
  • activities, prizes, and incentives that work for Kangaroo Care awareness celebrations
  • suggestions for clinicians and/or parents
  • your favorite research result or your favorite activity to raise awareness
  • volunteer for a 5-10 min podcast or Skype interview with Dr. Jackson (on any topic of your choice)
  • volunteer to teach a class about Kangaroo Care to professionals or parents
  • share with us what Kangaroo Care means to you and your family
What format and how long?

Here are some guidelines:

  • Written content: less than 500 words
  • Home made Video: less than 2 minutes (please say your name, position/parent, and hospital at the beginning – here is an example)
  • Audio/Video interview with Dr. Jackson (we will send instructions): 5-10 minutes
  • Training Class (we will send instructions): 30 min

Send us an email as soon as possible and we will follow up with you.

We’d need these if you choose to submit:  
  • a short bio or something about you (with a photo if possible)
  • the suggested title
  • your story
  • suggested audience (NICU, PICU, Parents, etc.)

or simply comment below! We can always learn so much from each other…