Grant Application

Mary Jo MacPherson , BSN, RN, CBC, Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC

Proposed Innovation

Kangaroo care is a method of holding a baby, naked except for a diaper, against a parent’s bare chest, creating essential skin-to-skin contact. Studies show it can help newborn babies regulate their body temperature, heart rate, and respiratory function while also building a strong bond with their parents and stimulating milk production in mothers.

Although kangarooing is widely acknowledged to be the best practice for newborns, it hasn’t been used extensively in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) at Children’s Hospital because so many babies there are critically ill. Through this project, a Kangaroo-a-thon event will be held to promote kangaroo care — even for the sickest infants.

Improvements in Action

Prior to the Kangaroo-a-thon, a tool kit will be developed to provide guidelines for staff along with educational meetings to explain kangaroo care and the awareness program. During the month-long Kangaroo-a-thon, parents will be invited to participate in lunch and learn events to hear about the benefits of kangaroo care. Each NICU baby will receive a small, stuffed kangaroo, and every family will be given Eric Carle’s book, “Does a Kangaroo Have a Mother, Too?”

Weekly prizes will be awarded to parents and staff who log the most kangaroo care hours. In addition, an iPad mounted on a desktop in both NICU family waiting rooms will provide ongoing education in skin-to-skin care.

Results – In Progress

The Kangaroo-a-thon is expected to be a vehicle for a lasting culture change in the NICU as more staff understand the benefits of skin-to-skin care. In addition, both family members and nurses are expected to embrace the practice of kangaroo care from the earliest stages and continue it throughout the NICU stay.