Baby Cuddlers

Tuesday, February 22, 2011 - 11:17am

Volunteers in L.A. step in to provide some TLC to babies in the neonatal intensive care unit.

The little patients in the neonatal intensive care unit require many things constant monitoring, medication, and lots of TLC.

While the doctors and nurses are more than capable of providing the first two, they don't always have the time to spend holding and coddling the little ones and the parents often can't be there all the time.

That's where the volunteer cuddlers step in offering soft words and gentle touches that can help as much as the strongest medicine.

Phyllis is a volunteer cuddler, for babies in Children's Hospital Los Angeles Neonatal Intensive Care.

For the little ones who don't yet understand the words.

It's easier to tell them everything will be ok through the universal language touch.

Neonatologist Phillippe Friedlich, M.D. says "touch, whether it is just to cuddle them, whether it's half hour, hour everyday can change the outcome of those infants."

Volunteer Phyllis Johnson says "it's soothing, making them a little more comfortable, getting them some sleep when they need some sleep."

Volunteer Michel Vergon says "it's true if you see a baby for weeks, um, you cannot help it to be attached to them. I'm sure it's the same situation for the nurses. It's gotta be hard. It is hard, difficult sometimes."

Michel's grandchildren are in France so he sings to these little ones instead. Michel says "when they cry and you hold them and sing to them it works like magic."

Magic the nurses don't always have time to create, and relief for the parents who can't be here all the time, and who always worry.

Davina's mom, Darlene Gonzalez, says "it's a good feeling and I know that she's in good hands."

For the volunteer cuddlers, touch is only a part of it. So many of these children are in and out of this hospital for so many years, the volunteers become friends. Friends who make the hospital that much more hospitable.

Michel says "I tell you what, I've been attached to some babies cuz they were here for a long time."

Michel remembers one boy who was a regular here for 7 years.

Michel says "I keep in touch with him. I keep in touch. Yeah he's working at a fast food restaurant. He's ok."

So when it's time to let go.

Phillis says "it's one of the greatest pleasures to watch one of these kids make some progress and go home."

And there are always new little faces, no one told them they need medical attention. All they know is they crave the kind of attention any baby wants someone to hold them.

Michel says "as long as I am standing up and be able to do this, I will."

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