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Peyton Manning Children's Hospital expanding baby cuddler volunteer program

Posted at 10:13 AM, Jun 01, 2023
and last updated 2023-06-01 10:14:36-04

INDIANAPOLIS — Peyton Manning Children’s Hospital at Ascension St. Vincent is looking to expand their "baby cuddlers" volunteer program.

The hospital is adding two new shifts of cuddlers and are accepting applications.

Cuddlers help with a variety of tasks in the NICU, but are especially tasked with helping calm and soothe babies as they’re growing and healing.

“They like attention, some of the babies,” said Bill Behan, a volunteer baby cuddler since 2019. “They get hungry and cranky, or they’re tired and can’t sleep. They’re in pain from a procedure they’ve had or some are having a procedure so they can’t get fed. It’s all those things combined I think but ultimately it’s just to make the babies more comfortable and a little more restful.”

Behan began volunteering after he became a grandfather, and says he thinks of the babies as his own adopted grandchildren. He says his volunteer shift anchors the week for him.

“It just feels great. It’s the best feeling in the world to come in and spend time with the little ones. In my way of thinking, they're the purest form of spirit, of that spirit that we’re all born with and as we go through life junk accumulates to it, but they’re the purest form of that spirit that we’re born with,” Behan said. “And sometimes they just, they just look at you. And they look, these little two or three day old people, they just look you directly in the eyes and connect with you while you’re holding them. It’s that kind of thing that’s just so special.”

The Peyton Manning Children’s Hospital NICU plans to move into the new Women and Children's Tower in 2024.

It will also be physically attached to Peyton Manning Children’s Hospital and Ascension St. Vincent Indianapolis Hospital, enabling all family members to receive treatment under one roof.