Systematic Review of Skin-to-Skin Care for Full-Term, Healthy Newborns

J Obstet Gynecol Neonatal Nurs. Nov-Dec 2017;46(6):857-869. doi: 10.1016/j.jogn.2017.08.005. Epub 2017 Sep 23.


Objective: To determine the effect of skin-to-skin mother-infant holding, touch, and/or massage on full-term, healthy newborns and their primary caregivers.

Data sources: A seven-member scientific advisory panel searched the databases PubMed, CINAHL, and Scopus using the search terms massage, skin-to-skin contact, kangaroo care, touch, therapeutic touch, and full-term newborns for research with human participants published in English with no date parameters.

Study selection: The initial search yielded 416 articles. After reviewing titles and retaining only articles that met the review criteria, 280 articles remained. The panel co-chairs reviewed and discussed the abstracts of these articles and retained 90 for review.

Data extraction: Each article was assigned to one panel member and one co-chair for review. Members of the panel met via teleconference to present articles and to determine whether they had scientific merit and addressed the research question. Articles that did not meet these standards were eliminated. Forty articles included relevant evidence: 33 articles on skin-to-skin holding and 7 on infant massage.

Data synthesis: We created a table that included the purpose, design, and findings of each study. This information was synthesized into a feasibility report by the co-chairs.

Conclusion: Evidence supports recommendations for skin-to-skin care for all full-term, healthy newborns. Although there is inadequate evidence to recommend massage as standard care for all newborns, massage has been shown to help consolidate sleep patterns and reduce jaundice.

Keywords: bonding; breastfeeding; infant massage; infant touch; jaundice; maternal attachment; newborn growth and development; skin-to-skin; thermoregulation.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Breast Feeding / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Kangaroo-Mother Care Method / statistics & numerical data*
  • Mother-Child Relations*
  • Object Attachment*
  • Skin Care / statistics & numerical data
  • Skin Physiological Phenomena