A review of 17 studies, involving 806 participants, has found significant benefits of early skin-to-skin contact between mother and baby on breastfeeding, behaviour and physiology in mothers and their healthy newborn infants.

Statistically significant and positive effects of early skin-to-skin contact were found in relation to breastfeeding incidence at one to three months of age, breastfeeding duration, maintenance of infant temperature in the neutral thermal range, infant blood glucose, infant crying and summary scores of maternal affection during an observed breastfeed within the first few days of the baby's life. (1)

Meanwhile, a randomised trial found that preterm infants held in skin-to-skin contact had greater head growth than babies held in a traditional way. No difference in weight gain or linear growth was found. (2)

1. Anderson GC, Moore E, Hepworth J, Bergman N. Early skin-to-skin contact for mothers and their healthy newborn infants (Cochrane Review). In: The Cochrane Library, Issue 2 2003. Oxford: Update Software.

2. Rojas MA, Kaplan M, Quevedo M, Sherwonit E, Foster LB, Ehrenkranz RA, Mayes L. Somatic Growth of Preterm Infants During Skin-to-Skin Care Versus Traditional Holding: A Randomized, Controlled Trial. J Dev Behav Pediatr. 2003 Jun;24(3):163-168.