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Baby cuddlers help nurse preemies back to health

Posted at 5:09 PM, Feb 10, 2017
and last updated 2017-02-10 19:58:31-05
Baby cuddlers have helped nurses at Banner University Medical Center care for premature babies in the Neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) for many years. 
 
For 10 years, Baby cuddler, Rick Valent has spent his retirement cuddling babies and sharing precious moments while they get healthy. 
 
 
Valent says, while the NICU babies are being cared for and nursed back to help - parents soon go back to work. 
 
"They can't be here 24 hours a day like they would like to be," said Valent. "FAdding, "for us, cuddlers, we try our best to take their place."
 
 
While cuddlers say they can't replace the love of a mother and father,  they try their best to provide significant love for these babies. 
 
One of the babies getting cared for in the NICU is 42-week-old, Baby Paris. Nurses tell KGUN 9 that she was born at 23-weeks-old, weighing 1 pound. 
 
The importance of cuddlers ranges from interaction, reading, talking and spending quality time with NICU babies. Making sure they are growing at a proper level -  despite the circumstances of not being with their parents after they are born. 
 
Cuddlers can help nurses, who often take care of more than 35 babies at once. 
 
Janice Appleman, NICU nurse, calls cuddlers "superheroes" for their help. 
 
With multiple babies crying, needing a diaper change, having to get fed, as well as, making sure that each child is growing into a healthy baby - nurses say they need help. 
 
If you would like to volunteer at Banner University Medical Center, call 520-694-6703. 
 
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