Windsor Regional Hospital is developing a cuddling program in its Neonatal Intensive Care Units.

Volunteers will cuddle infants when their parents cannot be present and provide compassion and companionship to families during their time in the unit.

This initiative has been popular in the United States and is growing in Canada.

“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.” says Deb Parent, Director of Women’s and Children’s Services at WRH.

The hospital is hoping volunteers can assist with many tasks including the Cuddler Program.

The program 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.

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.

Volunteers must to go through the legal requirements of completing health screening, police background check, interviews and a training session