Volunteer ‘cuddlers’ offer comfort to newborn babies at Valley Children’s Hospital

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MADERA COUNTY, California (KGPE) — Not every newborn gets to go home from the hospital right away. Those needing extra care at Valley Children’s Hospital also get extra love from cuddlers through a volunteer program.

Their job is to hold and cuddle with newborns in the neonatal intensive care unit when their parents can’t be there.

One of the roughly 70 cuddlers is Donna Garcia. She snuggles with babies twice a week.

On Thursday, she held Emmie, a little girl born early weighing only 2.5 pounds.

“Her bow is about as big as she is!” said Garcia.

Research shows human touch can have remarkable healing and developmental benefits.

“I think with my breathing and my heartbeat it calms them down,” said Garcia.

The cuddlers are especially helpful in circumstances when parents can’t be at the hospital 24/7.

“I know that somebody could be holding her if she is upset and that makes my momma heart happy because you don’t want your baby crying alone in a crib,” said Emmie’s mother Chantelle Haynie.

Garcia does a lot more than provide comfort to newborns, she also volunteers in other areas of the hospital and knits blankets for the babies.

“The caring nurses up here in NICU, I can’t speak their praises enough. They are very caring and dedicated to what they do,” said Garcia.

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