‘Baby cuddlers’ help premature babies in early days.

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‘Baby cuddlers’ help premature babies in early days.

Having a baby in the intensive care unit at a hospital can be a raw, scary, stressful experience. Seeing a tiny, vulnerable child in those circumstances is heart-rending — and when it’s your child, it can be almost unbearable.

Beyond the emotions, logistically it can be difficult for families who want to be near their newborns as much as they can, but also need to take care of themselves and rest. Sometimes families come to hospitals from hours away, but need to return home to take care of houses, pets and work.

Enter the ‘baby cuddlers.’ These hospital volunteers are trained to handle premature and ill newborns in the NICU, holding and cuddling them when their parents can’t be there, or simply need a break. Most parents are also relieved to know what their babies are getting some form of affection and emotional care when they can’t be there.

It’s not just to provide emotional support — touch is vitally important to babies’ thriving in the earliest, most vulnerable weeks of their life. It can calm them and relieve their stress. Most importantly, it makes them feel safe and cared for.

Many hospitals have ‘cuddler’ programs, which are growing in use as hospitals and doctors recognize the need for simple human connection at a critical time. Watch some baby cuddlers in Idaha in action, and witness just how important this work is for the most vulnerable of all…

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