Baby cuddling might be the best volunteer job EVER
The NICU unit at a Canadian hospital is looking for volunteers to cuddle babies, and honestly, is there a better job than that? And it’s not just Canadian hospitals — NICU units everywhere are in need of volunteer baby cuddlers for when the parents can’t be with them.
The Saint Boniface General Hospital in Winnipeg, Manitoba, launched the Baby Cuddler program to help give premature babies the skin-to-skin contact they need while also giving their parents assistance for when they can’t be with their babies.
One of the first volunteers for the program, Lucette Parent, was more than happy to volunteer time. “I love babies, so when I heard about the program, I said, ‘Sign me up,’” she says. “When I come in for my volunteer shift, I know I am going to give out a lot of love.”
All babies benefit from cuddling and skin-to-skin contact, but especially premature babies in the NICU. It helps them develop better sleeping habits and cuddled babies are more attentive than babies who aren’t cuddled.
Last year, an elderly man went viral for being an “ICU Grandpa” who cuddles babies in his local PICU and NICU.
“They call him the ICU Grandpa. On Tuesdays, he visits the PICU to hold babies whose parents can’t be with them that day. On Thursdays, he makes rounds in the NICU,” the Facebook post states. His name is David Deutchman, and he’s been volunteering for more than a decade.
When parents have babies in the NICU, they often get released to go home before their babies. Many parents have older children they need to tend to and be home with, and therefore can’t be in the NICU to hold and cuddle their newborns as often as they’d probably like to.
“Babies can really benefit from someone holding them, talking to them, singing to them,” says Sue McMahon, program team manager for the Baby Cuddler program. All the more reason to sign up to volunteer at your local hospital, if they offer the opportunity.
Being a baby cuddler is one volunteer activity that can have a substantial impact on the children who need it and the families who benefit from it as well. And if you don’t live in Winnipeg, don’t worry. NICU units in hospitals everywhere are hopping on board to offer baby cuddling programs to ease the burdens on parents and staff alike. Check your local hospital and inquire about their volunteering programs in relation to their NICU units — chances are, many of them offer it.
Volunteers like David and those in the Baby Cuddler program are invaluable assets to both the hospital and the parents of children being cared for. The dedication to volunteering and love for these babies can make such a huge impact on their lives.