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WakeMed NICU Participates in 2019 Kangaroo Challenge

For the past six years, WakeMed’s NICU has participated in the Kangaroo Challenge from Sunnybrook Hospital in Canada. This is an international challenge to see which hospital can log the most hours participating in kangaroo care.

Each year for 15 days, we ‘challenge’ our parents with a Kangaroo-A-Thon to kangaroo their babies as usual—but this time to also keep track of those hours. During this time, we also re-educate our staff and families on why kangarooing is so important. This way, we know that we are taking the time to focus on our families, and we are making sure all of our staff is on the same page regarding such an important family-care skill.

What is kangaroo care?

Kangaroo care, also called skin-to-skin care, is when you hold your baby naked or in just a diaper on your bare chest. Holding your baby this way allows him or her to get to know you through your scent, your touch, your voice and the feel of your skin. But, Kangaroo Care doesn’t just help you and your baby bond—it helps your little one (or little ones!) get  better faster when they are in the NICU!


Kangarooing your baby helps them:

  • Sleep better
  • Cry less
  • Keep his or her body the right temperature
  • Move into an open crib sooner
  • Breathe better
  • Gain weight
  • Feel less pain

The Importance of Kangaroo Care

During our Kangaroo-A-Thon, I took some time to sit down and speak with LaWanda McCreary. LaWanda is the mother to baby boy, Christian. I asked LaWanda why she thinks kangarooing is so important.

Christian was born at 28 weeks and we had to wait 10 days before we could hold him. Being able to Kangaroo brings a bond that is unexplainable… I could feel his fight. I could also feel the love. You feel your child relax and a peace comes over them that transfers to you as a parent. Even with all the nose of machines around you, the wires or tubes, and the light chatter of conversations happening in the nursery, somehow with Kangaroo care time stands still and it’s just you and your little fighter… and all is well with the world!



Mom’s aren’t the only ones who can kangaroo! We encourage dads to kangaroo too, and it is just as important for them to participate in skin-to-skin care. Dad’s kangaroo quite frequently in the NICU, and can be very competitive in the Kangaroo-A-Thon, where we give out prizes at the end of the 15 days to honor our families’ efforts to care for their babies.

LaWanda’s husband, Mike, shared his experience:

The first time I was able to kangaroo with Christian was EPIC!  I was excited but nothing compared to the gratefulness and contentment I experienced. I was grateful to God for the miracle, that He had blessed our family with.  I don’t know that I have ever felt such contentment than during those moments of holding my son – nothing else mattered.  My focus was on his body temperature, feeling his heart beat and his little hand on my chest.  With each opportunity to kangaroo, for me it’s a chance to say, “I love you, I have your back, daddy’s here!”  These have been some of the best days of my life.

About Mallory Magelli McKeown

Mallory Magelli McKeown is the Family Navigator for WakeMed Children’s Hospital. If you have questions about ways that you can help support WakeMed’s NICU or about family support at WakeMed Children’s, please email Mallory at

*Written with help from LaWanda and Mike McCreary, current WakeMed NICU parents to baby boy, Christian.