Hobart Hospital’s volunteer ‘cuddlers’ are supporting parents by comforting their premature babies when they are unable to visit.

Parents of premature babies are often faced with the agonising reality of going home without their child. While most try visit the hospital every day, there can be times when other responsibilities make it impossible.

The volunteer baby cuddling program at the Royal Hobart Hospital aims to support parents whose babies are spending an extended amount of time in care. A dedicated team visit premature babies at their parent’s request and spend time holding them, providing much-needed comfort.

A Helping Hand

Lauren Miller, whose daughter Mackenzie spent almost six months in hospital after she was born at 23 weeks, told the ABC that the program made the experience a little more bearable.

“We knew that giving that positive touch was incredibly important to balance out the touches that weren’t as lovely,” she said. “It meant so much to me that there was someone available to give her some love.”

The program, started by retired neo-natal nurse Judy Stove, is now so popular that there is a waiting list for parents who wish to have their baby visited by the volunteers.

Comfort And Security

A paper published by The University of California revealed that the effects of regular cuddling on premature babies were significant.

“When preemies are held and touched, their vital signs often improve, and researchers have found that it also boosts neurodevelopmental outcomes and stimulates growth,” it said.

“Cradling a baby gives them more than just a sense of security. It’s precious medicine for premature babies who often come into the world with weak immune systems and underdeveloped lungs.”

We think that volunteer cuddling programs are such an amazing idea! Knowing that your baby will be given the cuddles they so desperately need, even when a visit is impossible, must be such a source of reassurance for parents during a challenging and emotional time.

What do you think of volunteer cuddling programs for premature babies? Let us know in the comments.

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  • This is a beautiful idea and if the people involved have all the correct checks done, I am all for it. I wish they did something like this close to me as i would certainly volunteer.

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  • I wish they did this close to me! I’d volunteer in a heart beat. Those teeny babies need all of the love and contact they can get. My heart breaks for the parents being forced to go home without their babies.

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  • What a wonderful program …well done indeed.

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  • I am so proud of Tasmania for having this program. It’s a truly remarkable and beautiful thing to give these beautiful little Bubba’s some much needed skin to skin contact and warming human touch in the beginning of their life. Such a massive load off the parents who, for whatever reason, can’t give them that contact straight away to know they are getting cuddles and love.

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  • Wish this had been around when my bub was born – she used to beg you with her eyes to pick her up, but no-one was allowed to do so. Then she had to stay in hospital for nearly 6 months to build up her weight and with two littlies at home, I just couldn’t get there every day. I would have loved something like this.

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  • i hope that this sort of program is everywhere. i think it is so beautiful.

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  • This is beautiful. Babies need all the 1on1 contact they can get, particularly when Mum and Dad can’t be there,

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  • What a lovely idea. Babies need all the love they can get.

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  • I would both volunteer if this program was local and also ask for these volunteers if the situation arose! What a special idea. It’s so hard to leave a baby in care so knowing there were extra hands for hugs would make such a difference.

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  • Just saw this article now, i havent been to see the movie but loved tbe original. I think this dad is spot on and also hilarious.

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  • I have heard of this program before and I think it is fabulous! I would totally be a premie baby snuggler.

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  • This program is amazing! I wish my town offered something like this. I slept in a small pod room at the hospital until my boy could come home. I never left as I didn’t want him to be alone. Something like this program would have been amazing. Those premmie babies are so lucky to have those amazing angels in that program!

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  • This is beautiful more love for babies and child is always a good thing. It takes a village.

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  • this sounds wonderful and there is lots of research showing how important human contact is particularly in the early days. is it only in Hobart or other hospitals? I will have a look at my local hospital as I would love to be part of something like this.

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  • I think this is beautiful! I’m sure the anxious mums are extremely grateful to these volunteer angels!

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