The Kangaroo Challenge
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The Kangaroo Challenge 2018

You make me feel so good…

Nothing beats the feeling of someone you love holding you tight!  This holds true for infants in the NICU, but it's not just transformative for them.  It's the best medicine for their parents as well. That's why the 2018 Kangaroo Challenge is focusing on the impact of Kangaroo Care on the mental health of parents and 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 units all across North America, Australia 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, St Joseph's Health Centre in Toronto, Ontario led the way with a reported total of 4.5 hours of holding per baby per day!! For the Level 3/4 NICU competition, Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in Toronto, Ontario won with an average of 3.0 hours/baby/day! 

The vision

Join a global Kangaroo-a-thon beginning May 1 and ending on May 15 to celebrate Kangaroo Care Awareness Day.

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 if your event runs at a different time, you can still participate in the fun. Events can be any duration but must be initiated by MAY 15, 2017 (Kangaroo Care Awareness Day) in order to be counted.
  • 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.  I think there should be prizes for the unit furthest away from your own, getting all the units in your catchment, city or province/state,…think 6 degrees of separation.




Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre:
3.0 hours/baby/day

St. Joseph's Health Centre:
4.5 hours/baby/day

View the comparison chart

View the 2016 results comparison chart » 

A stretch goal!

Create your own stretch goal and share it and your results with us!  Maybe you pride yourself in doing well at encouraging Kangaroo Care.  How can you step outside the box and stretch your boundaries!  Only you can decide.

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 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 Monkey, 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:
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!

Here are some 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.

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