Developmental Aspects of Kangaroo Care


  • Susan M. Ludington-Hoe CNM, PhD, FAAN,

    Corresponding author
    1. Susan M. Ludington-Hoe is a professor in the School of Nursing at the University of Maryland in Baltimore.
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  • Joan Y. Swinth RNC, BSN

    1. Joan Y. Swinth is a staff nurse in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Kadlec Medical Center in Richland, WA.
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Address for correspondence: Susan M. Ludington-Hoe, CNM, PhD, FAAN, University of Maryland at Baltimore, School of Nursing, 655 West Lombard Street, Baltimore, MD 21201.


Kangaroo care (skin-to-skin holding) is an intervention that meets development care criteria by fostering neurobehavioral development. The five dimensions of neurobehavioral development are autonomic, motor, state, attention/interaction, and self-regulation. Kangaroo care promotes stability of heart and respiratory function, minimizes purposeless movements, improves behavioral state profiles, offers maternal proximity for attention/interaction episodes, and permits self-regulatory behavior expression. Kangaroo care satisfies in part the handling, self-consoling/soothing, nonnutritive sucking, and parenting interventions recommended by the National Association of Neonatal Nurses' Infant and Family-Centered Developmental Care Guidelines.