Skin-to-skin time might feel most natural right after your baby is born. Once the other demands of life return, prepping yourself and your baby for skin-to-skin might seem like an activity that can wait, but if you can make space for it, skin-to-skin is so worth it.
The incredible physiological benefits for babies include helping their digestive systems mature, reducing the amount of crying, improving sleep, promoting weight gain, improving immunity, and accelerating brain development.
If you’re feeling down, worried, or anxious—and what new parent isn’t at times—skin-to-skin contact also releases oxytocin, the feel-good hormone.
Here are some tips for skin-to-skin time:
Take a bath with your baby
Make sure to have towels ready on the floor within reach before you get in. If possible, ask someone to help you and your baby get out of the bath.
Try a baby massage
If your baby enjoys massage, your light touch with coconut oil or another baby-safe oil is great for skin-to-skin contact. Use dark or older towels because sometimes the massage oil can stain fresh white ones. Massage for babies is most calming from the center of their bodies out, so start with your baby’s chest, then move out to legs and arms. The loving touch is what matters here; you don’t have to do lots of how-to research on infant massage.
Get close while feeding
Consider feeding your baby in just their diaper, your shirt off, and a blanket over your shoulders for warmth. Before you get undressed, try to remember to use the bathroom and get a glass of water (and anything else you want handy) in case your baby falls asleep and you want to relax together.
Do tummy time on you
Because of the rooting reflex, this works best if your baby has already been fed.
Skin-to-skin time is great for dads, moms, and even supervised siblings ❤️
Learn more about the research
Bergman, N. J., Linley, L. L., & Fawcus, S. R. (2004). Randomized controlled trial of skin-to-skin contact from birth versus conventional incubator for physiological stabilization in 1200-to 2199-gram newborns. Acta Paediatrica, 93(6), 779-785.
Moore, E.R., Bergman N., Anderson, G. C., & Medley, N. (2016). Early skin-to-skin contact for mothers and their healthy newborn infants. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, 11, CD003519.
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