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Volunteer Baby Cuddlers Help Infants Thrive

Baby cuddler

Stony Brook Children’s Hospital’s Baby Cuddlers are trained volunteers who visit babies while they’re under care. During their three- to four-hour shifts, the volunteers rock the babies, sing lullabies and provide that all-important human touch – providing the emotional and social healing these fragile infants need.

Baby cuddler
Cuddler Program Volunteer Jodi Abbinanti with patient in NICU

“You see their heart rates go down. Studies show it helps them mature faster, and the length of stay is shorter,” said Nurse Jessie Jellen. That means the children can go home to their families sooner.

All babies need to be held and cuddled in order to thrive. But when a baby is in the hospital for an extended period, he or she may not be able to get that comfort from parents as often as they need it. Parents may have other children, work obligations or medical needs of their own. And nurses are often busy with pressing medical tasks.

If the baby is sleeping or resting comfortably, the volunteers may also help out in the unit in other ways, such as stocking toiletries and supplies, and folding blankets.

In order to become one of our Baby Cuddlers, volunteers are carefully screened and trained on disease control and privacy laws. They are not allowed to know why the baby is in the unit. Parents have been very happy to know that someone is there to cuddle their babies when they can’t be there

Currently there are 12 trained Baby Cuddlers at Stony Brook, and a waiting list of volunteers that is years long. However, volunteers are always needed and welcome at Stony Brook in many other areas. To learn more about volunteering and our available assignments, please click here.


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