Baby cuddling programs
The program, launched in 2015 in association with the Canadian Association of Paediatric Health Centres (CAPHC), aims to give babies the hugs they need—even when parents can’t be there—by providing funding to hospitals to help them put cuddling programs in place.
Proponents of the program cite hundreds of medical studies that show the importance and healing benefits of skin-to-skin hugs between mom or dad and their newborn. These range from stabilized heart rates to improved sleep and lowered response to pain.
With the No Baby Unhugged program, when parents of newborns in the NICU are unable to provide hugs, volunteers help fill the need by providing parents with confidence and the comfort of knowing their baby is not alone.
Research shows touch is powerful
A white paper prepared for the CAPHC regarding the power of human touch for babies, lists, among numerous scientifically supported benefits, pain relief, weight gain and growth, and improved mental health in both infants and parents.
According to the paper, “Being held and, in particular, caregiver touch, is a natural, no-cost intervention that has been found to have many beneficial effects for babies in hospital … Touch stimulates tactile nerve endings in the skin, which leads to a release of endorphins, oxytocin, and serotonin, often referred to as ‘love hormones,’ which produce pleasant sensations and feelings.”
The power of touch is, in fact, so powerful, science has shown various long-term positive effects of touch received as babies in children who have been followed to the age of 10. And if the rise of professional cuddling services across the country is any indication, adults, too, stand to benefit from a touch, cuddle, snuggle, or hug.