The human touch can have a powerfully positive impact on the healthy growth and development of premature babies.
More than 500,000 premature babies are born in the U.S. each year. To ensure that preemies born at Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital, a member of the Westchester Medical Center Health Network (WMCHealth), get the hugs they need to thrive, the hospital created a Neonatal Cuddlers Program at the Regional Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (RNICU). The volunteer program offers the irreplaceable power of human kindness to premature and seriously ill newborns.
Huggies recently helped expand the program with a $10,000 “No Baby Unhugged” grant, which was used to recruit and train volunteers, to purchase hugger chairs and to create educational materials for volunteers and patient families.
The Neonatal Cuddlers Program (which currently has a full crew of volunteers) provides much needed physical human interaction for newborns to help make their transition from the hospital to home quicker. Premature or seriously ill newborns who are held and enjoy moments of personal interaction and compassion have a better chance of recovery, as well as improved sound recognition, visual fixation and calming skills that allow their developing brains to achieve normal milestones.