A Hug Back for NICU Nurses

As a pediatrician, I know one of the most exciting times of a parent’s life is the birth of their child. Yet, this experience can be a challenging time for families whose children are born prematurely. I learned this more than ever when I was the Associate Chief of the NICU at the Hospital for Sick Children, the world’s largest children’s hospital.

Those who make it possible for premature babies to transition into healthy babies are the often-unsung heroes of the hospital – the NICU staff and volunteers. These individuals become vital resources for not only the babies in the NICU, but their families as well.

For the children in the NICU, the staff and volunteers provide the essential touch that babies need. As I discussed in a previous post, touch is vital for babies’ development. By providing their patients with the hugs and touch that parents often cannot during their child’s stay in the NICU, nurses help keep a baby’s heart beating at a normal rate, improve sleep and support healthy weight gain (The Power of Human Touch for Babies). They encourage the healing power of touch from parents and other caregivers, and once baby is unattached from breathing support and in the growing phase, encourage parents to wear their baby around the nursery in a cloth carrier, now dubbed ‘kangaroo care.’ These two early hugs help babies heal.

Newborns need hugs

Through this close partnership, parents often develop deep, long-lasting emotional ties to the NICU nurses and volunteers that were sources of comfort. They provide support and strength to these families as they go through a sometimes confusing and difficult journey.

In order to shed light on all this amazing work NICU nurses and volunteers do, for the third year in a row, I’m partnering with Huggies. Through the brand’s No Baby Unhugged program, they are giving away 25, $10,000 grants in 2017 to establish or support volunteer hugging programs in hospitals across the nation. These funds will go towards ensuring that these everyday heroes receive the resources they need to continue providing the hugs every baby, and family, needs. You can help contribute to the grant program and ensure babies continue to get the hugs they need by signing up to become a Huggies Member at Huggies.com/NoBabyUnhugged. For each sign up, Huggies will donate $5 to No Baby Unhugged grants.

Next week, at the International Conference for NICU Nurses, I can’t wait to continue my close work with the wonderful nurses and volunteers that make NICUs so special. I intend to let them know about the exciting new work Huggies is doing, and thank them for all that they have done and continue to do for babies and families across the country and world.

Huggies – the fastest growing diaper brand in U.S. hospitals – believes deeply in the Power of Hugs, which is why every diaper and wipe is inspired by a parent’s embrace. The Huggies No Baby Unhugged program helps ensure all babies get the hugs they need to thrive by supporting hugging programs in hospitals and donating diapers across the country. Learn how you can help at Huggies.com/NoBabyUnhugged. #HuggiesCouncil #ad

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