RALEIGH (WTVD) -- A pilot program involving volunteers cuddling babies and helping families in the NICU at UNC Rex Healthcare Hospital in Raleigh is looking to grow.
For the last year, the Triangle hospital has offered families the service of specially-trained volunteers providing cuddle time with NICU babies when the parents can't be there.
Research has shown the benefits of close contact with NICU babies.
Volunteers must complete a year of service at UNC Rex in a clinical position prior to helping with babies in the NICU.
Parents like first-time mom Allisa Pulley whose baby, Amira, has been in the NICU for two months said the service is priceless.
"Since I started back to work last week, I've been not on my usual schedule of coming here, so I was like, who's going to be there when she cries and when she wants to be held?" Pulley said. "She likes to be held because she's used to me holding her all the time. So, that's why I signed up for the cuddling program because she likes to be held."
UNC Rex is always looking for volunteers in the hospital.
In addition to the year of service prior to the NICU, volunteer cuddlers also go through an extensive screening process and require some classroom training and orientation.
You can learn more about volunteer opportunities at UNC REX here
UNC Rex looking to expand NICU volunteer cuddlers pilot program