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Volunteers cuddle sick babies at Brussels hospital

12:37 09/12/2019

Queen Fabiola Children's University Hospital in Laeken has launched a trial project that sees volunteers cuddling sick infants when their parents aren’t around.

The hospital launched the project a couple of months ago in collaboration with Les calineurs de bébés, a Brussels non-profit, to better assist overburdened parents and overworked nurses. 

The volunteers from Les calineurs de bébés cuddle premature babies, as well as gravely ill infants and toddlers under the age of two. In this way, they create a bit of breathing space for the parents. “Parents after all can’t remain by the bedside for 24 hours,” said Dominique Biarent, head of the intensive care unit at the Laeken hospital. She added: “They only do this when the parents agree to this.”

Biarent told Het Nieuwsblad that being a volunteer baby cuddler is no easy task since the infants may die. “But the volunteers from the non-profit receive adequate support and are later debriefed by our therapists,” Biarent said. The volunteers also must undergo rigorous screenings to prove that they are up to the task physically and mentally.

The non-profit isn’t currently accepting applications from volunteers and 2,000 people are already signed up to their waiting list to become a volunteer.

According to Biarent, the results of the project have been encouraging. “We are seeing the result of the additional body warmth,” she said. “Babies who receive support from the volunteers do much better." 

Photo courtesy Pexels

Written by Linda A. Thompson