Baby cuddlers at Genesis East


Baby cuddling is a growing trend at hospitals around the country – and that includes here in the Quad Cities.

Volunteers have been spending quality time with babies in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Genesis East.

What started out as five, now, there are eight baby cuddlers.

Deb McManus has been a volunteer with the Genesis Baby Cuddlers Program since it began last fall.

She’s held half a dozen babies in the NICU. 

“It’s a bond that you don’t forget,” she says.

This is the first time she’s holding month-old twins Jasir and Jamir – who were born eight weeks premature.

“When you know they’re feeling content and comfortable, I get a lot of satisfaction out of that,” says McManus.

She takes every opportunity to be here, for a couple mornings a week, when the parents can’t.

“I like to hold their hands, i like it when they wrap their fingers around mine,” says McManus. “It just seems like they just, ‘ah somebody’s loving me’ is what it seems like they say.”

Nurses tell us, cuddling is good for premature and sick infants.

It helps them sleep better, supports their development, and reduces anxiety.

“It’s really beneficial,” says Mallory Mintle, NICU charge nurse and volunteer cuddler coordinator. “It helps with that human growth and development and human touch, and it’s really rewarding.”

McManus calls it a peaceful experience.

She says she feels like she did her job when the babies get better and go home.

“I love what I’m doing, I’m going to keep doing it. As long as they need me here I’m going to be here.” 

The Genesis Baby Cuddlers only hold the baby. They don’t feed them or change their diapers.

If you’d like to be a volunteer baby cuddler, you can call Genesis at (563) 421-7617.

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