Hobart Hospital’s volunteer ‘cuddlers’ are supporting parents by comforting their premature babies when they are unable to visit.

Parents of premature babies are often faced with the agonising reality of going home without their child. While most try visit the hospital every day, there can be times when other responsibilities make it impossible.

The volunteer baby cuddling program at the Royal Hobart Hospital aims to support parents whose babies are spending an extended amount of time in care. A dedicated team visit premature babies at their parent’s request and spend time holding them, providing much-needed comfort.

A Helping Hand

Lauren Miller, whose daughter Mackenzie spent almost six months in hospital after she was born at 23 weeks, told the ABC that the program made the experience a little more bearable.

“We knew that giving that positive touch was incredibly important to balance out the touches that weren’t as lovely,” she said. “It meant so much to me that there was someone available to give her some love.”

The program, started by retired neo-natal nurse Judy Stove, is now so popular that there is a waiting list for parents who wish to have their baby visited by the volunteers.

Comfort And Security

A paper published by The University of California revealed that the effects of regular cuddling on premature babies were significant.

“When preemies are held and touched, their vital signs often improve, and researchers have found that it also boosts neurodevelopmental outcomes and stimulates growth,” it said.

“Cradling a baby gives them more than just a sense of security. It’s precious medicine for premature babies who often come into the world with weak immune systems and underdeveloped lungs.”

We think that volunteer cuddling programs are such an amazing idea! Knowing that your baby will be given the cuddles they so desperately need, even when a visit is impossible, must be such a source of reassurance for parents during a challenging and emotional time.

What do you think of volunteer cuddling programs for premature babies? Let us know in the comments.

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  • This is beautiful more love for babies and child is always a good thing. It takes a village.


  • this sounds wonderful and there is lots of research showing how important human contact is particularly in the early days. is it only in Hobart or other hospitals? I will have a look at my local hospital as I would love to be part of something like this.


  • I think this is beautiful! I’m sure the anxious mums are extremely grateful to these volunteer angels!


  • I think this is absolutely wonderful and would love it to be where I live as I would love to get involved.


  • What a sweet idea


  • About time a hospital in Australia starting this, its been done overseas for years


  • Fantastic idea, love to do that job!


  • What a sweet idea. I’m sure the comfort for the parents is almost as beneficial as the comfort to bub.


  • I’d love that job, so many bubs are alone due to illnesses or distance, sad to see


  • That’s an awesome idea.


  • Cuddling programs are a great idea. My 5yr old was removed from her drugs using parents straight at birth. She was for 4,5 wks in the hospital on Methadon and her her biological parents hardly saw her in the time she was admitted. She was enrolled to a cuddling program too.

    • In my experience most hospitals here have volunteers who give attention to kids outside of the visiting hours of parents.


  • Great idea. It needs to be brought in to every hospital.


  • I wish this was available everywhere, absolutely lovely


  • A wonderful idea that hopefully more hospitals will take on board.


  • I think that it’s great for both the baby and the parents to know that their baby was getting the cuddling that they obviously respond to. If I was able to do this for babies I would love to help out in this way. I think that anything that benefits both the parents and baby is important.


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