The Power in a Cuddle

It seems more and more these days I’m hearing about adoption and foster care. There has been a significant influx as of lately in billboards and commercials advertising the need for adoptive parents. As it turns out, it’s not just coincidence that I’ve happened to notice these things. The number of children in foster care programs and adoption centers is on the rise and so is the need for adoption. But what you may not be aware is the need for cuddling babies that are in these programs!

That’s right. Adoption agencies are in dire need for volunteers to step in and take the time and care to give these precious babies love and attention. Why? The importance of cuddling babies is imperative to their overall well-being.

The Benefits of Cuddling Babies

There’s proven evidence that shows babies really do thrive from being cuddled and held. It’s why many hospitals have established Kangaroo-Care for preemies. Holding and cuddling with your baby establishes a healthy bond between parent and child. It also has long-term effects on children as they grow and develop.

  • Cuddling provides babies with a sense of security and familiar comfort while in the womb.
  • Holding babies on the chest has proven to help regulate their heart rhythm and breathing rates.
  • Encourages healthy weight gain as cuddling helps to maintain body temperature from the warmth of the holder, reducing the rate of calories burned in trying to maintain their own body temperature.
  • Increases oxytocin levels (the happy hormone) as babies are calm, quiet, and more alert when held. It reduces emotional stress from crying when babies experience discomfort such as colic, teething, etc.
  • Improves sleeping patterns!
  • Cuddling has benefits for those who cuddle too! It has proven to increase oxytocin levels in the person holding the baby, reducing stress and promoting relaxation.

The need for cuddling babies is actually not a new concept. In fact, many hospitals actually have a hugging program in place that serves to aid babies staying in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. Often times when a baby has to spend an extended period of time in a NICU the parent is unable to be with the baby at all times. Hospitals with hugging programs have volunteers to step in and hold, rock, and cuddle with the babies when the parents can’t.

Similarly, adoption agencies seek the need for volunteers to help with babies that are placed in temporary programs. There is an interim between the time a parent places a baby up for adoption or makes necessary changes to provide a safe environment to take their baby home. This is usually where babies are placed in Foster care.

What are Foster Care Programs?

The difference between foster care and adoption is that foster care isn’t permanent placement. Foster care serves as a resource for children that are taken out of their homes or away from their biological parents for whatever reason and temporarily placed with a family to care for them until a permanent solution can be resolved. For instance, a child may be removed from a home that is deemed unsuitable or unsafe (domestic violence, abuse, drugs, etc.) and placed in a home until long-term arrangements are set up – be it for the child to go live with a relative or until the child’s parent receives help if needed. Children that go into the foster care system may eventually be eligible to be adopted out if a permanent solution can not be made.

People are often under the assumption that babies put up for adoption immediately go into a home – be it foster care or adopting parents, however this isn’t necessarily the case. There may be a time-frame when a parent is considering placing a child up for adoption where the child is placed in temporary care until the parent makes that final decision. This time period varies from state to state and can be anywhere from 5 days to a month or longer. During this time period, babies and children may remain at the hospital if an adoption is in place or placed in a group home or private home. Regardless of placement they still need that essential cuddling/bonding with a person to help them thrive. That’s where cuddling volunteers come in.


Adoption agencies are always in need of volunteers, but there is especially a need for people to come in and dedicate their time to showing these babies love and compassion. Infants and children that don’t receive vital cuddling time typically have lower oxytocin  levels and may struggle to develop healthy social skills and attachment during adulthood. To be a volunteer cuddler with these agencies an individual must meet the requirements in place for that state as the child may be placed in their home similar to foster care.

To find out more information on how you can apply as a volunteer for cuddling babies search for Adoption listings in your area. You can also contact your local hospital to find out if they have a hugging program, such as the Huggies No Baby Unhugged program, that provides volunteers to hug babies in need.

If you liked this article be sure to share it and help raise awareness for the need of cuddling babies and adoption!



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