How to get off to a good start

Cuddling skin-to-skin with your baby

Cuddling with your baby skin-to-skin has many benefits for both mom and baby:

  • encourages breastfeeding
  • helps regulate your baby's temperature and blood glucose
  • helps create an emotional bond
  • keeps baby warm
  • reduces crying

Skin-to-skin from birth and beyond

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that your baby be placed skin-to-skin for at least the first hour after birth.

Routine medical care can be done while your baby cuddles with you. Some care can wait and be done at a later time.

You are encouraged to hold your baby skin-to-skin as often as possible in the hours and weeks to come. The AAP says it will continue to give your baby important physical and psychological advantages.

Your support person can hold and bond with your baby skin-to-skin too. It is a wonderful way to be a special part of your new baby's life.

There are times when skin-to-skin cuddling may not be possible. For example, if you or your baby has health problems after birth. The nurse will help you or your support person to reunite with your baby and have skin-to-skin time as soon as possible.

Watch your baby's feeding cues

Your baby will give you cues when she is hungry: 

  • roots or turns her head when her cheek is stroked
  • opens her mouth and searches
  • smacks her lips
  • makes sucking movements
  • puts her hand in her mouth
  • moves her body in a way that looks like squirming
  • cries (the last cue)

Having your baby stay in your room will make it easier to watch for the following feeding cues.

Source: Allina Health's Patient Education Department, Beginnings: Pregnancy, Birth and Beyond, seventh edition, ob-ah-90026
First Published: 10/04/2002
Last Reviewed: 12/02/2015

skin to skin

Skin-to-skin contact is when your baby is placed naked against your or another caregiver's bare skin. (Your baby may have a hat and diaper.)

baby being held

Skin-to-skin contact helps encourage a good milk supply and helps forge a bond.

mom holding baby skin to skin

Skin-to-skin time reduces crying and helps promote bonding between you and your baby.