For the more than 500,000 premature babies born in the U.S. each year, human touch can have a powerful impact on healthy growth and development. To ensure that all babies—including those who are most vulnerable — get the hugs they need to thrive, the Huggies No Baby Unhugged program is awarding seven $10,000 grants to hospitals across the country to help support or establish volunteer hugging programs. These programs provide much needed physical human interaction for newborns in neonatal intensive care units (NICU) that can help make their transition from the hospital to the home quicker.
"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," said Giusy Buonfantino, president of Kimberly-Clark Baby and Child Care North America. "Huggies' No Baby Unhugged grant program is proud to help hospitals across the U.S. give premature babies the care they need while in the NICU."
Hospitals may use the grants in a variety of ways, such as investing in volunteer training and recruitment, hugger chairs and educational materials for volunteers. The seven hospitals receiving grants so far in 2017 include:
- Children's Hospital at Dartmouth-Hitchcock, Lebanon, New Hampshire
- Maria Fareri Children's Hospital, Valhalla, New York
- Chester County Hospital, West Chester, Pennsylvania
- Southern Illinois Healthcare Memorial Hospital, Carbondale, Illinois
- Sutter Medical Center, Sacramento, California
- UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital, Oakland, California
- UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital, San Francisco, California
"Caregivers at our Regional Neonatal Intensive Care Unit are thrilled to receive Huggies' No Baby Unhugged grant, which will help us enhance and expand our current Cuddlers Program," says Edmund LaGamma, MD, Chief of Newborn Medicine at Maria Fareri Children's Hospital, a member of the Westchester Medical Center Health Network. "Neonatal Cuddling Programs like ours offer a treatment like no other in medicine: the human touch. 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."
"Huggies deeply respects all that hospitals and NICU nurses do for babies across the country," said Aric Melzl, General Manager, Huggies Healthcare at Kimberly-Clark. "Our strong partnership with NICU nurses has helped Huggies become the fastest-growing diaper in hospitals and create a distinct portfolio of specially-designed diapers and wipes to meet the unique needs of premature infants who need extra love and care."
Huggies will distribute more No Baby Unhugged grants throughout the year, with the next announcement anticipated in October. Hospitals interested in applying for the No Baby Unhugged grant can fill out an application on the Huggies website. For those interested in supporting the program, visit Huggies.com/NoBabyUnhugged to become a Huggies Member and in turn, Huggies will donate $5 to support volunteer hugging program grants for hospitals.