Volunteers at Massachusetts hospital cuddle babies to aid development

For a group of volunteers at South Shore Hospital in South Weymouth, Massachusetts, spending time with babies isn’t about the cute factor, it’s about helping the tiniest ones grow strong enough to go home.

The Baby Cuddler Program gives extra care to babies from the special care nursery, most of whom were born premature and recently transferred to the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), Fox25 reported.

"Research has shown that it calms them, it helps them manage stress better, if they're sleeping better and managing stress better it improves brain growth,” Mary Tenney, nursing practitioner coordinator at the hospital, told the news station, noting that babies can stay anywhere from five days to four months.

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For some parents, being with their baby at the hospital around the clock isn’t a possibility.

“It's wonderful to be in the position that you can sit and hold them,” volunteer Dotty MacDonald told Fox25. “Nurses don't have the time to sit and hold the babies all day long."

To become a Baby Cuddler volunteer, individuals must undergo a background check and training. According to Fox25, most are retired and have some sort of medical background. Currently, the program is full and no longer accepting applications.