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'Cuddlers' return to Sierra Vista Regional Medical Center's NICU

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Posted at 5:15 PM, Apr 05, 2022

Sierra Vista Regional Medical Center in San Luis Obispo has brought back the "Cuddler" program to its neonatal intensive care unit.

Volunteers were welcomed back to the NICU this week after the program was put on pause during the pandemic.

Cuddlers are volunteers who comfort babies being treated in the NICU while parents have to be away at work or taking care of other children.

"I think we provide a valuable service that helps the doctors and nurses and I think it helps the parents to know that their babies are being held and that they're being comforted when they're feeling some distress," said Marylud Baldwin, a volunteer since 1999.

The goal is to calm babies that may be feeling distressed and simply comfort them.

Cuddlers hold the babies, read to them, and even quietly sing to them. They may hold the babies for about 45 minutes to up to four hours, depending on the baby's needs.

Officials say being a Cuddler is the most sought-after volunteer job at the hospital and volunteers have to go through extensive training.