Social Engagement: Medium
What’s What: Baby cuddlers hold and soothe newborns in intensive care units. If you love babies and could use more cuddling in your life (and who couldn’t?) this might be just the thing for you!
Amava Take: Families can’t be with their babies every minute while a baby is in the neonatal intensive care unit. That’s where baby cuddlers come in. As a volunteer, you get special training to support nursing staff with one of the most important aspects of a baby’s treatment—cuddling. As a volunteer cuddler, you get to hug, kiss, swaddle, and hold babies that are just days or weeks old. Baby cuddlers free up nurses to perform their many other responsibilities and provide babies with human touch when their families can’t be there. Studies show that babies receiving care from cuddle volunteers gain weight faster, require less medication, and get out of the hospital sooner. Connection is good for all of us!
From the Front Lines:
What kinds of candidates are you looking for to fill these jobs?
Compassionate people who like babies.
Any tips for first-timers to make it a productive and fulfilling experience?
Sing and talk to the babies as much as possible. Don’t be self-conscious–the babies won’t know if you’re singing off-key.
What’s a typical daily schedule like?
Completely dependent upon each hospital and your availability. Often volunteers sign up for the same shift every week.
From the Trenches:
What’s the most satisfying part of the job?
Helping families know that their babies are being well cared for when they are away from the hospital.
How would you describe the hard parts?
It can be stressful if a baby is fussy and can’t be easily soothed.
What do you learn from doing this work?
To stay calm and be mindful. Also, doing this work gives you perspective about what really matters.
Special Requirements: Generally, there are no special requirements. If you have a desire to help and are physically able to hold a baby you can do this.
Finding a Position: Hospitals all over the country have programs for baby cuddlers, but there is no national directory. Search online for “baby cuddler near me” or “volunteer with infants” to find a hospital or other facility near you and investigate what kinds of volunteers they need. Some hospitals also have special programs for infants born addicted to drugs. The opioid crisis has unfortunately created an acute need for baby cuddlers at hospitals around the country. Baby cuddler programs are so popular that some hospitals now have waiting lists for volunteers. If you have trouble connecting with an opportunity, think more broadly about rehabilitation centers, social services organizations, homeless shelters, domestic violence organizations or health-related organizations.