Vulnerable babies born addicted to painkillers or heroin are being soothed through their first difficult weeks by volunteers whose sole task is simply to cuddle them.
Programmes in hospitals and care facilities across the US have been inundated by people keen to offer physical comfort to the infants as they go through the withdrawal process.
Numerous studies have shown the benefits of human physical contact, and medical staff have found that recruiting volunteers to hold and snuggle up to babies – perhaps singing or whispering to them – has a positive effect on the newborns.
Many babies spend weeks or months in hospital as they are gradually weaned off the drugs they have been exposed to in their mothers’ wombs. Sometimes they are not with their parents, or their mothers are spending many hours each day attending drug rehabilitation programmes.
‘Someone to hold their baby’
“These babies need to feel love, human touch …