Did you know skin-to-skin holding increases oxytocin and decreases cortisol in babies and their parents? 


In the 2018 study by Vittner and colleagues, entitled Increase in Oxytocin From Skin-to-Skin Contact Enhances Development of Parent-Infant Relationship, researchers studied the correlation between skin-to-skin holding and oxytocin and cortisol levels and parental stress and anxiety. This randomized crossover study enrolled 28 preterm infants and their parents. Salivary cortisol and oxytocin levels were taken from both parents and their infants, as well as video analysis of infant-parent interactions at discharge. Researchers determined that salivary oxytocin increased in both parents and their infant with skin-to-skin holding. Similarly salivary cortisol levels were lowered in infants and parental anxiety scores were directly related to their oxytocin and cortisol levels

Skin-to-skin holding continues to be a foundational piece of Neuroprotective, Family-Centered, Developmental Care. As a neonatal caregiver, how are YOU fostering skin-to-skin holding as soon as possible, as long as possible, and as often as possible? Learn more about our educational DVDs on skin-to-skin holding, as well as swaddled bathing and neonatal massage here. These videos will help increase your staff and NICU parent’s knowledge, comfort and confidence with skin-to-skin holding!


Vittner, D., McGrath, J., Robinson, J. (2018). Increase in oxytocin from skin-to-skin contact enhances development of parent-infant relationship. Biological Research for Nursing, 20 (1), 54-62.