Kim Carson knows first hand how scary it can be to have a baby in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (also called the NICU).
That’s why when our Baby Cuddler volunteer program started at UVA in 2009, she was one of the first to sign up. “It’s near and dear to my heart,” says Carson.
The cuddlers are volunteers in the NICU who hold, rock and cuddle some of our most fragile patients, providing human contact and soothing words. In fact, it’s not uncommon to watch a fussy baby calm down and fall asleep in a cuddler’s arms.
“Within moments after a baby is placed in a cuddler’s arms, they calm down,” says Susan Card, RN, who is the NICU’s Education Orientation Coordinator.
“We count the cuddlers as part of our team. Just as you give medication or physical therapy to meet a need, this is part of their [the babies] care,” says Card.
Research shows that a human touch enhances growth, improves health and helps babies, both premature and full-term, develop trusting relationships later in life.
“The volunteers just come with huge hearts,” says Kim Garofalo, Children’s Hospital Volunteer Coordinator.
Want to Volunteer at the Hospital?
Please note: This program is so popular that the NICU isn’t looking for additional baby cuddlers at this time.
But there are lots of other ways you can make a difference!
- Contact Volunteer Services at 924.5251 to find out how.
- Check out our website for details on how you can contribute.
I understand that you are not in need of any cuddlers at this time. Is there a list I can put my name on? Or what is the best way to find out if and when cuddlers are needed?
I am interested in the Baby Cuddlers program. Please put my name on standby should any opening come available to participate in this program. Thank You.
Hi Gail, our volunteer office doesn’t really keep a waitlist, but the director suggested you give them a call: 434.924.5251. Thank you for your interest!
Do you need any cuddles at this time?
Hi Donna, we don’t need any cuddlers right now. We do have a lot of other volunteer needs, though. You can get more information at https://uvahealth.com/about/volunteering.
Would you have any suggestion I have daughter that will be 14 would love to volunteer with babies or children she is a A student .She volunteers through her community and local nursing on regular basis.She is doing a ongoing project for Family Career Community Leaders of America and would love to have the experience with babies.If you could give in suggestion or recommend anything in that field.
Thank you so much for your time.
Thanks for your interest! We do have a junior volunteer program, and one of the things JVs can do is help out at our child care center. We’re no longer accepting applications for summer volunteers, but in June we will be taking applications for next school year. Here’s some more information: https://uvahealth.com/about/volunteering/junior-volunteer-summer-program
Just checking in yo see if there are any openings for a baby cuddler at this time.
Would love to be a cuddled if ever you have an opening. How do I add my name to the list?
I am willing to volunteer any time of the day or night.
If it is not possible to be a cuddler, are there openings for Lactation Counselor volunteers?
Thanks for your interest! We don’t have any baby cuddling opportunities right now, and we don’t use volunteer lactation consultants. But here are some of our available volunteer jobs: https://uvahealth.com/services/volunteer/opportunities
Is there a waiting list to get on for holding the babies?
I would like to volunteer for the cuddlers program. Do you have any vacancies? Thank you.
Thanks for your interest! We don’t currently need any baby cuddlers, but we do need volunteers for other roles if you’re interested: https://uvahealth.com/services/volunteer/opportunities You can reach out to our volunteer office at 434.924.5251.