An initiative that has been popular in Neonatal Intensive Care Unit in the United States is now growing in Canada. It involves the simple process of cuddling of newborns when a parent is not present.
Windsor Regional Hospital volunteers will cuddle infants when their parents cannot be present and provide compassion and companionship to families during their time in the unit.
“Just rocking an infant in your arms, singing softly and cuddling them with warmth and tenderness goes a long way in nurturing the child during early stages of life.” states Deb Parent, Director of Women’s and Children’s Services at WRH.
The hospital says that life does not stop when you have a sick child and families can’t always be present, so with a parent’s consent, a volunteer can help by holding the infant to soothe them.
The program being launched at WRH builds on the observed benefits of baby cuddling as well as research that has shown health improvements in infants, resulting from a caregiver’s touch.
Volunteers coming to Windsor Regional Hospital must to go through the legal requirements of completing health screening, police background check, interviews and a training session. Volunteers who wish to be part of the Cuddler Program are specifically selected individuals.
This initiative is different because the volunteers have physical contact with patients in an NICU environment. Cuddling has been demonstrated to be beneficial particularly for babies born suffering from Opiod withdrawal, as the result of being exposed in utero to illegal or prescription drugs. It has also has proven effective for term infants who can be irritable during NICU admission and settle quicker when held.
“Windsor Regional Hospital looks forward to launching the Cuddler Program in the NICU as another way to enhance the patient and family experience.” said David Musyj, President and CEO for WRH.
For more information about volunteering for the Paediatric Program at Windsor Regional Hospital, visit www.wrh.on.ca.