Team of Volunteer ‘Cuddlers’ Helping to Save NICU Babies

baby hand

When a baby enters the world long before its due date, the hospital’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) can become a “home away from home” to many parents, family, and friends. But, what if days turn into weeks, or weeks turn into months? At some point, many preemie parents may find that they have to return to work, or care for their other children.

As much as it may pain parents to leave their babies at the NICU, even if it’s just to run home, shower, and change into fresh clothing, the parents at Miller Children’s Hospital in Long Beach are thankful for the “cuddlers,” who hold and rock their sick babies while they are away.

Recently retired John Hauck is a member of this group of volunteers; and after spending almost 30 years working for the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, he says, “Babies are good people … In the Sheriff’s Department, we didn’t always deal with good people.”

Hauck doesn’t have any children of his own; but in the video, he is cooing over the tiny baby he’s holding, and saying, “Look at that little face. That’ll break your heart won’t it?”

The cuddler volunteers have been around since 2004, and they believe that their touch is what helps to heal these babies. Studies have continually supported this belief, and NICU parents at the Miller Children’s Hospital certainly agree.

Nikki Conkings “understands first-hand the anguish of leaving a newborn in the NICU. Her son was born at Miller Children’s Hospital 34 years ago, and spent three weeks in the NICU.” She is a now a cuddler volunteer because she wants to help other parents who are going through the same nerve-racking experience.

What a wonderful program! I can’t imagine the relief these parents must feel, knowing that someone is caring for their tiny children in the way they wish they could. Whenever they’re away, for whatever reason, someone is showing their babies the love and tenderness that exist within the human touch.

Does your local hospital have a program like this? If you had a baby in the NICU, would you want a cuddler volunteer to hold your child while you’re away?

Comment below!

What do you think?

Team of Volunteer ‘Cuddlers’ Helping to Save NICU Babies

Kimberly Shannon is a wife, a mother, an editor, a writer ... She is always working to find the perfect balance¹! After Kimberly received her bachelor’s degree in Journalism, she worked on two master’s degree programs (Creative Writing, and Marriage and Family Therapy). At various times in her life she has signed up to study Naturopathy, only to back out at the last minute, and humored the idea of returning full-time to the world of dance. Kimberly has also started 10 different children ... More

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  1. Profile photo of Arian Arian says:

    Our baby wading the NICU for 14 weeks. We were there for hours everyday. We thankfully werte able to have lots of skin on skin time with her. I remember seeing an elderly lady in there many times helping hold and feed the babies when their parents couldn’t be there. It was so wonderful to see and know that other people care about what you and your baby is going through. The nurses are wonderful too. I made friends with a few of them. They care about the babies like they were their own kids. We love to visit them yearly at the NICU reunion. I’m very thankful for anyone who is willing to take their time to help the babies and their families! Some day when I’m retired I will be in there helping with the babies asuch as I can.

  2. Profile photo of Dennise Dennise says:

    My son was in the NICU for almost a month. My heart would break everytime I had to leave him. I cried so much at the thought that he was alone. I couldn’t be there 24/7 like I would of if he was at home. I would have loved for a volunteer "cuddler" to hold him when I couldnt. I didnt know this kind if thing existed. I will look into NICUs in my city to see if any of them allow for such volunteers and as soon as I feel ready to put my son in daycare I will be first in line to volunteer. 🙂

  3. I would love to volunteer and help those little ones grow with love ?

  4. I have wanted to be a cuddler for quite a while now. Unfortunately, our hospital doesn’t have a NICU.

  5. Profile photo of COLLETTE COLLETTE says:

    would love to I love kides I have two but they a big now .

  6. Profile photo of christina christina says:

    Yes, I would. It also comes to mind that some babies are born to drug addicted parents who rarely come to visit. Wish our local NICU had cuddlers.


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