By Ayushi Pandey
Skin-to-skin contact is frequently referred to as “kangaroo care” because it resembles how kangaroos embrace and shield their young ones. Fathers must engage in this age-old practice of cuddling with their newborns as it helps them feel warm and safe in the father’s arms. A father’s intimacy with his child can have some incredible benefits, like the fact that they often cry less, sleep better, and are happier when held close to their skin.
The innovation of skin-to-skin contact is a boon
Skin-to-skin contact with the father is one of those techniques that flourished more with time and proved to be a blessing for father-child relationships. Infants develop a deeper connection with their father when they implement this technique from the beginning. The involvement of both parents helps the baby’s mental as well as hormonal development. Skin-to-skin contact with a newborn has been demonstrated to reduce stress hormones and heart rate. In addition to being able to identify their parents with the sense of smell, infants can hear their heartbeat as well.
The right time for skin-to-skin contact with fathers
According to research, fathers who hold their infant close within the first 24 hours after birth have been reported to have a stronger bond with their child. The first hour of a baby’s life can have the most significant impact on how much the parent and child bond. This is why it’s best to implement the skin-to-skin contact technique as soon as possible, ideally within the first hour of a baby’s birth. This period of time is also referred to as “the golden hour” since it is when both the father and the unborn child are most prepared to establish a strong chemical bond. Another excellent time for a father to have some skin-to-skin contact with the newborn is when the mother is undergoing treatment or stitches following a C-section or an episiotomy.
Advantages of skin-to-skin contact with father
- Assurance of safety in a child
Newborns are in a relatively protected and enclosed environment in the womb, so they have a hard time adjusting when they are brought into contact with the outside world. They must adapt to everyone’s touches, grips and holds, as well as voices over time. Given that the parents implement the skin-to-skin contact technique from the start, the infants may be able to identify their parents’ touches early on. The child feels more secure and finds it easier to adapt to the outer world when they are held close to their father’s chest. Studies say babies understand their fathers’ voice from the time they are in the womb and thus skin-to-skin contact with the father is comforting to babies and promotes bonding.
- Helps in keeping the pace of the child’s heart rate in check
By spending time in close contact with the dad, the baby’s body develops the ability to self-regulate, resulting in a steady and consistent heartbeat and breathing pattern. Skin-to-skin contact can prevent 75% of erratic breathing and slow heartbeat events. This bond also escalates the brain and heart activities of a child in a positive manner and maintains normalcy. This leads to the baby’s primitive sleeping and feeding patterns. The controlled heart rate significantly allows a child to have a safe and sound sleep with sufficient appetite.
- Baby’s immunity system gets better
Skin-to-skin contact between the father and a baby boosts the immune system as antibodies from the baby’s immune system transfer via the father’s skin to the child. The baby’s skin becomes more hydrated when it touches the father’s skin, acting as a barrier against hazardous microorganisms. Skin-to-skin contact and its effects also ensure the development of a child’s mental and emotional balance in the latter stages of life.