“Baby cuddler” volunteers rock babies back to health at Davenport’s Genesis Medical Center

DAVENPORT, Iowa - A volunteer program rocking the country has made its way to the Genesis Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Genesis Medical Center, on East Rusholme Street.

The unit now has volunteer baby cuddlers.

Baby cuddlers are a growing trend in U.S. hospitals. Volunteers are trained to rock and hold premature and sick babies, providing soothing contact when the babies parents might not be able to do the job themselves.

Charge Nurse Mallory Mintle says sometimes parents need a break, or have to go back to work or are taking care of other children while their babies are in the hospital.

That is when, with the parents consent, a volunteer might be invited in to help.

"It's just really great for the whole healing process and helps sooth and calm the baby," said Mintle.

A current volunteer, Deb McManus, has been a volunteer baby cuddler since the fall of 2018.

She tells News 8 she has two grown children and is retired from her career.

She said the bond between the volunteer and the babies is special.

"They like to be held," said McManus. "and I like to hold them, cuddle them, talk to them.

McManus said she tries to volunteer about twice a week.

"Every once in a while it looks like they smile, and that just makes you really happy," said McManus. "When you know when they're feeling content and comfortable, there is a lot of satisfaction that I get out of that."

The program currently has about 7 volunteers, and the hospital staff said that is typically more than enough.

There are times where there are more cuddlers than babies.

However, the public is invited to be trained as volunteers, either for this program or for any of the hospitals other volunteer programs.

If you are interested you are invited to call the Genesis Medical Center volunteer office at (563) 421-7617

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