kangaroo care
n. Neonatal care in which a premature baby is held on the chest of the caregiver with skin-to-skin contact.
Other Forms
Dr. Johnston and her team are looking at various ways of diminishing pain in preterm babies. They found, for example, that skin-to-skin contact between premature babies and their mothers can reduce the discomfort caused by painful procedures. This "kangaroo care," seems to promote a sense of security in the babies.
—Celeste Johnson, “Hush Little Baby,” AScribe Newswire, May 16, 2002
1990 (earliest)
Like hundreds of babies, Michael Anthony Bernal Espinoza was born premature.

Michael Anthony, who is 3 weeks old, squirmed and mustered a shriek while Cathy Basacker, his nurse at Doctors Medical Center in Modesto, prepared the infant for his next Kangaroo Care session.

Basacker removed Michael's warm clothing, leaving him only in his diaper. Venesa Valente, 15, Michael's mother, opened her gown to expose her chest. Michael's squeals subsided as soon as his head rested between his mothers' breasts.
—Elisa Rocha, “Tiniest babies get jump start in life with 'kangaroo care',” Modesto Bee, December 03, 1990
Premature babies, isolated in a separate ward or under an oxygen tent, suffer because they lack human contact. In the 1980s, doctors in Columbia began taking the opposite approach and allowed mothers to tuck their premature newborns under their clothing and hold them twenty four hours a day. (If the baby needed oxygen, a special "oxygen hood" was placed over the mother's chest.) This arrangement looked just like a baby kangaroo tucked inside its mother's pouch, and so the phrase kanagaroo care was born.

Best of all, it worked: not only did more kangarooed babies survive, but they thrived, with many leaving the hospital days or even weeks earlier than normal. This success was noticed by doctors in the U.S., and kangaroo care was imported to some California hospitals in the late 80s. In the U.S. version, however, the mother or father "wears" the infant for only a few hours a day.

The earliest citation for kangaroo care came not long after the procedure made its U.S. debut.