From boosting breastfeeding to setting the stage for brain development, there are many benefits of skin-to-skin contact between newborn and mum & dad.

Babies love to be cuddled and held, as every parent knows. But new evidence suggests that being in skin-to-skin contact with a parent does more than just make the baby happy. It can help to solve breastfeeding problems, prevent hypoglycemia and other newborn difficulties, reduce pain, stabilise premature babies and set the stage for optimal brain development. That’s pretty impressive for something so low-tech!

The research on skin to skin contact:

1. Stabilises premature babies more quickly and reliably than being in an incubator

2. Maintains the baby’s temperature better than an incubator (One study of twins made one too warm and the other too cold, and then placed both on the mother’s chest at the same time. The result: The too-cold baby warmed up while the other simultaneously cooled. Dads can’t do quite as well, but they will warm a baby who is too chilly.)

3. Stabilises a premature baby’s heart rate and breathing

4. Helps prevent babies’ blood sugar from dropping too low

5. Relieves pain when babies need to have blood tests or other procedures done

6. Helps premature babies gain weight better

7. Encourages increased milk production in breastfeeding mothers

8. Helps non-latching babies or those with a range of breastfeeding problems breastfeed more effectively

9. Reduces the amount babies cry

10. Promotes stronger bonds between mothers and babies — and probably fathers too, but the research has been done on mothers (In one study, fewer babies were later abused or abandoned if they’d been cared for skin to skin in hospital.)

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