BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) – Baton Rouge General and Woman’s Hospital have collectively been providing a “Cuddler Program” for almost 25 years.

BRG started their program around three years ago and had to hit the pause button because of COVID-19.

Well, now it is back!

According to Baton Rouge General, “The cuddlers program is run through our volunteer program, and most of our cuddlers are retired.”

Shifts for cuddlers can run anywhere from two to four hours.

So what is the “Cuddler Program”?

Baton Rouge General is providing a detailed look about this ongoing program below:

“During a shift, a volunteer will cuddle whichever babies recommended by NICU staff – typically babies who are closer to transitioning home are the best fit for cuddling. (for example, they wouldn’t be able to cuddle a newborn on a ventilator) The reason the program is so important is that there are so many benefits to cuddling for the babies, and it can even help them get home sooner. Cuddling provides the human connection and socialization they need. After hearing the mother’s heartbeat for months while in utero, mimicking a similar environment through cuddling can be therapeutic for the babies. (For the volunteers, it can also be therapeutic as many are away from their own families.)”

Much like Baton Rouge General, Woman’s Hospital has their own “Cuddler Program.”

Their program has been around for over 20 years.

Woman’s Hospital brought back the program this year to help “NICU families who can’t be at the hospital all day with their babies.”

The program is also executed by volunteers.

According to Woman’s Hospital, “volunteers must accumulate 100 hours of general service before they are eligible to become a cuddler.”

The plan is for the “Cuddler Program” to be in place for the holidays at Woman’s Hospital.

Woman’s Hospital describes their program this way:

“Some families are in the NICU for weeks or even months, and they aren’t always able to be there around the clock every day. Volunteer cuddlers help comfort our NICU babies along with guidance from our NICU nurses. This helps our NICU parents to know that all of their baby’s needs are being met even if they can’t be there with them.”