Courtesy of Huggies

Science Says NICU Babies Are In Desperate Need Of Hugs

A snuggle can go a long way. Research has shown that cuddling premature and sick babies can help their health improve at a quicker pace. And when infants in neonatal intensive care units are hugged, kissed, soothed, and sung to regularly, their future growth and development also benefit. That's why Huggies is literally donating hugs to NICU babies, and it's the cutest thing ever.

On Wednesday, Huggies announced that it will award seven $10,000 grants to hospitals across the country as part of its No Baby Unhugged program, a fledgling initiative that helps volunteers provide hugs and human interaction to little ones in NICU. According to Yahoo Finance!, the Huggies grants will support medical facilities as they establish or build up neonatal cudding programs, which are vital to the one out of 10 babies born prematurely in the United States, as estimated by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Huggies plans to award up to 25 grants in total this year.

Giusy Buonfantino, president of Kimberly-Clark Baby and Child Care North America, said of Huggies' grant initiative,

Huggies believes deeply in the power of hugs. They provide much more than just a heartwarming cuddle – a hug can stabilize heart rates, increase oxygen levels and strengthen baby’s immune system.

Volunteer hugging programs have tremendous benefits for premature and sick infants. They help provide physical interaction to babies when their parents are away from the hospital. A whitepaper commissioned by Huggies found that regular touch — including hugs, infant massages, skin-to-skin contact, facilitate tucking, and kangaroo parent care — can speed up weight gain, cut down hospital stays, stabilize heart rates, improve oxygen levels, reduce anxiety and stress, and strengthen a baby's immune system, along other benefits.

Edmund LaGamma, chief of Newborn Medicine at Westchester, New York's Maria Fareri Children's Hospital, which is a grant recipient, said in a statement,

It is clear that premature or seriously ill newborns who are held and enjoy moments of personal interaction and compassion have a much better chance of recovery. They have improved sound recognition, visual fixation, and calming skills that assist the developing brain in achieving normal milestones. Touch is an irreplaceable force of human kindness and this grant emphasizes its importance.

It's clear that neonatal cuddle programs are important to the health and wellness of premature and sick babies. That's why it's heartwarming to know that Huggies is taken this step to help improve or establish more programs across the country.