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Skin-to-skin contact

‘Skin-to-skin’ means holding your baby against your bare skin with their bare skin touching your own, usually against your chest.

Skin-to-skin contact has been shown to:

  • Improve the attachment you have with your baby
  • Calm and relax both you and your baby
  • Regulate your baby’s heart rate and breathing
  • Familiarise your baby’s skin with friendly bacteria, which can aid development of their immune system, provide protection against infection and help to prevent allergies in later life
  • Help to establish and maintain breastfeeding, it encourages your baby to look for the breast

Take a look at this video from Unicef about meeting your baby for the first time:

This video was not produced by Health for Under 5’s and may contain adverts.

You or your partner can have skin-to-skin contact with your baby soon after birth.

If you or your baby need additional care in hospital and skin-to-skin contact is delayed, it’ll be offered as soon as possible. Skin-to-skin contact will benefit babies as it:

  • Reduces stress levels
  • Improves oxygen saturation levels
  • Assists with growth
  • Helps protect your baby from infection

You can also encourage your partner or other children to have skin-to-skin contact with your baby in the first few weeks after birth. Feeding time is always a good chance to have skin-to-skin contact time, whether you choose to breastfeed or formula feed.

Useful links

Health for Under 5’s – The first 1001 critical days

Unicef – Skin-to-skin contact – Skin-to-skin contact and breastfeeding

Page last reviewed: 26-01-2022

Next review due: 26-01-2025