The Kangaroo Challenge
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The Kangaroo Challenge 2017

Are you ready to rumble kangaroo?

Last year 95 hospitals from around the world participated in the Kangaroo Challenge — 74 from North America and 21 Aussie hospitals. What a privilege it is to hear the wonderful stories and collaboration from your units! We may have different policies, personalities and preferences, but at the end of the day we come together to work for our tiny patients and their parents in encouraging this transformative practice.

This year, in partnership with the Canadian Premature Babies Foundation, we are inviting you all to try to beat the truly impressive record of our two winners from last year. Stealing the kangaroo flag from Salem, Calgary Children’s Hospital rose to the top of the podium amongst the level 3-4 units with an amazing 3.5 hours of holding per baby per day. North York General Hospital, here in Ontario, also did an incredible job reuniting babies and families, and was the top performing level 2 hospital with 4.1 hours of holding per baby per day. These numbers will be hard to surpass, but we think you can do it!

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.
  • Accept our stretch goal and see how many non-ventilated infants can enjoy minimal separation after delivery and remain kangarooing from stabilization, to the NICU and beyond.


Held - 3.0 hours/baby/day

3 babies transferred


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!

Of course, our goal this year is to beat 3.5 hours of holding established by our friends at Alberta Children’s. At Sunnybrook, we like to make things interesting, so we want to introduce a new stretch goal: Minimal separation of an infant from parents following delivery. Every time staff is able to keep the non-vented infant kangarooing on mom or dad through the transport stage, continuing through the transition period once in the NICU, they will become eligible for a special group prize.

Our motto: Work together, Play together, Stay together!

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 SurveyMonkey, 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! (Plus some other fun goodies).

How do you calculate your hours?

Definitely a sticky question last year!! 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:

All eligible* infants each day regardless of time of admission/discharge:

Sum of time held each day for all eligible infants divided by eligible census* divided by the number of days in your event.

*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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