Babies are born with needs for physical contact, affection, security, stimulation, and movement — urgent and intense — and yet, depend completely on others to meet them.
Nurturing touch is a way to meet all of these needs at once.
Mothers and fathers are encouraged to provide ample nurturing touch from birth on to promote the healthiest child development. But what about newborns born premature or ill, who must remain in the hospital long-term?
Some hospital units, like St. Michael’s in Toronto, Canada, featured in the video below, train and provide volunteers who hold, sing to, and love on in-patient babies. These volunteers are aptly called Cuddlers.
The newborns may have been born premature or have medical needs that require them to stay in the NICU. Or, these babies may have been born to mothers with mental health or addiction issues. Some of these babies may be suffering from drug withdrawal or fetal alcohol syndrome.
But all of these babies benefit from nurturing touch and affection. The medical community notes that hospitalized babies gain weight faster, have improved infant mental health, and typically shorter hospital stays.