The Kangaroo Challenge
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The Kangaroo Challenge 2019

“The greatest danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we miss it, but that it is too low and we reach it."
– Michelangelo

Back to Basics…

2019 marks our 5th year celebrating Kangaroo Care together!

For some of us, we have been helping families provide Kangaroo Care for much longer, for others, this may mark the beginning of changing practice altogether. Whatever your unit’s current culture, the 2019 Kangaroo Challenge is focusing on emphasizing the basics, asking; why, who, when, where and how with sights on improved implementation of kangaroo care. Challenge yourself to consider how your unit can create change in its policies and practices to foster Kangaroo Care and, individually, have your co workers consider the impact that they have by reuniting families with their infants.

Of course, it wouldn’t be nearly as fun if we didn’t continue the tradition of holding a little competition, so this year, once again, in partnership with the Canadian Premature Babies Foundation, we are inviting you to join together with 113 units all across North America, Australia, England, Ireland, Scotland, Israel, India and beyond, to celebrate Kangaroo Care with a massive kangaroo-a-thon. Last year’s results were very impressive. For the Level 2 NICU competition, Exeter NNU in the UK led the way with a reported total of 5 hours of holding per baby per day! For the Level 3/4 NICU competition, Riley Health IU North in the USA won with an average of 4.63 hours/baby/day!

The vision

The Kangaroo Challenge, May 1 to May 15, spotlights the benefits of Kangaroo Care for infants and their parents. The aim is to raise awareness both within neonatal units and the community at large and encourage NICU staff members to adopt KC as an integral therapy for premature infants.



 2018 WINNERS:

LEVEL 2: Exeter NNU - UK
5.0 hours/baby/day

LEVEL 3/4: Riley Health IU North - USA:
4.63 hours/baby/day


Level 1-2 NICUs »

Level 3-4 NICUs »

Your mission, should you choose to accept:

  • Hold your own Kangaroo-a-thon. Ideally, hosting one from May 1-15 would mean we are all doing it together—(like an international family reunion), but you may host your 2 week event at any time between now and May 15, 2019 to be included in the challenge.
  • Meet or exceed the totals achieved by last year’s winners. You can include modified kangarooing in your totals.
  • Identify 3 other units (not currently registered in the Challenge) and challenge them to join us.

A stretch goal!

If your unit consistently practices Kangaroo Care already, amazing! Since there are always ways to improve, create your own stretch goal to push beyond where you thought you could be. This year focus on 1 or 2 practices/policies that you are seeking to change in order to create new sustainable results. Share these goals with the rest of us!

What do you need to do?

Below, you will find a Kangaroo Tool Kit, which we have used to promote, educate and host our kangarooing event. You are welcome to use any or all the tools for ideas or to help you launch your own event. The idea is to break down obstacles that may discourage your unit from doing this. Please also feel free to share your tools and ideas with us by emailing them to

How do you register?

Registering is easy! All you have to do is send an email to our challenge coordinator at the Kangaroo Challenge. Please give us your unit name, a contact, and your proposed dates for your event, and we’ll add you to our mailing list and registry. At the end of your event, please complete the survey which will be open until the end of May. The results will be then posted for you to see. The prize: bragging rights for the year!

How do you calculate your hours?

First thing, remember this is FUN. It is not a research project, and every unit is somewhat different in their patient population and acuity. What we do know is: Kangaroo Care is natural and has countless documented benefits. Some of us incorporate it well and others are just learning. The Kangaroo-a-thon is about embracing the research and sharing it (educating) in a way that is enjoyable! So revel in this event — and for the competitive among us (you know who you are!), here is how the hours are to be calculated:

# of hours a baby was KC'ed in a day
All hours for one 24 hr period together
The total hours by the number of eligible* babies in the unit that day
On the last day Add:
The daily hours/baby and divide by 15 to come to your unit's HOURS/BABY/DAY

The feedback in previous years often revolves around *eligibility and some of the barriers units face beyond their control, primarily, parents of eligible infants that are unable/unwilling to be involved due to a variety of circumstances. When these infants are factored into your numbers, they will bring your averages down. First off, know that EVERY unit faces this issue but we would dare you to see this as an opportunity to make lemonade with your lemons! (maybe this is your stretch goal this year)

Things to consider:

  1. Can your unit encourage families to utilize alternate cuddlers in their absence — ie. Grandparents, or Aunties/Uncles of baby to do kangaroo care?
  2. Can your unit adopt volunteer cuddlers — although this is not considered kangaroo care and won’t be calculated into your numbers, neither will the baby be considered “eligible”? Absolutely, kangaroo care is the goal — BUT ultimately, a baby who is enjoying a positive touch experience and engagement vs. isolation — totally a win!
  3. No to these two? How about encouraging staff to cuddle babies for even 1 hour a day?
  4. Ultimately, don’t worry about it because every unit without exception, except possibly the Swedes, will have this issue so it all evens out in the end.

More resources: