For most of us, cuddling our babies is something we may take for granted. There's nothing quite like gathering them up in their blankets and puffy diapers to have a much-needed hug. For the first few months, they spend longer in our arms than out of them - but we don't know how lucky we are. Delaware Online shared how one volunteer is helping ill babies get some much needed human contact.
Donna Francisco spends her time volunteering at Nemours A.I du Pont Hospital for Children. With the help of nurses, she picks up the babies and sits with them for half an hour at a time, singing lullabies, reading children's books, and rocking them. A lot of these kids are in intensive care, some with fragile bones fighting against life-threatening illnesses. When the parents are taking breaks, "cuddlers" like Donna step in so the babies still have a high level of love. Other hospitals have also followed suit.
While having a seriously ill child will take over the lives of parents, the world doesn't stop. Mortgages still need to be paid, other responsibilities taken care of, and work still needs to be done. Parents want to spend every minute they can with their children, holding them and cuddling them, but it's just not possible. Donna, along with a team of other specially vetted volunteers give parents the reassurance that while they aren't there, their kids are still being given vital attention that goes beyond routine vitals checks.
The program at Nemours began around a year ago, initially starting out as a way for high school and college students to volunteer while they weren't at school. With the project turning out to be more successful than imagined, there are now volunteers from all walks of life and similar projects at other hospitals. The impact of cuddling has helped the children become exposed to song as well as vocabulary that they otherwise would miss out on in the ICU. The program especially benefits children who have mothers with drug addictions. When they're born, they can often experience withdrawal symptoms. Cuddling can lessen the effects and help to offset the distress of the bright lights, loud noises, and other things in the ICU.
In short, never underestimate the value of a good cuddle!