TUCSON, Ariz. — Baby cuddlers are an important part of the process in nursing premature babies to health.
The cuddler program at Banner University Medical Center in Tucson says cuddlers are available in the hospitals NICU 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
"Moms and dads and family members are here very often, but there are times when parents can't be here. So our cuddlers will hold these babies, care for them, feed them, and provide really loving care and attention when their mom and dad can't be here," said Alan Bedrick, a neonatologist at BUMC.
Research has proven skin-to-skin contact babies have with their parents can be very important to a baby's comfort and development. Therefore, having a cuddler program for premature babies, who need more intensive care, helps the little ones in thier recovery and growth.
"The cuddlers holding the babies, we know that those babies tend to have better outcomes with the more contact they can have," said Bedrick.
And aside from the benefits that babies receive, cuddlers like Debbie Rodriguez can gain positive outcomes of volunteering their time as well.
"I love babies and its just that calming feeling and knowing that I'm helping them," said Rodriguez, who's been a volunteer for a more than two years.
Currently, there is a waiting list for people to become cuddles in BUMC's program. The program looks for people who, the hospital says, fit the grandmotherly/grandfatherly type and are those who will commit longterm to form relationships with the babies. Prospects go through an interview process, a background check, and special training. To volunteer at banner umc call 520-694-6703.