Poznań clinic takes on ‘surrogate grannies’ to cuddle newborn babies
A neonatal clinic in Poznań has taken on a group of pensioners to work as surrogate grandmothers and cuddle newborn babies.
The 22 women all aged over 60 joined the Senior Maluszka Tuli (‘Seniors Hug Babies’) programme, which after being introduced in 2019 was suspended because of the pandemic.
Financed by Poznań City Hall, the project was reprised earlier this year with the new influx of pensioners now beginning their hugging duties.
Volunteer Bożena Zielińska, said: “This is a wonderful volunteer initiative – I was looking for something to do when I retired so as not to just sit around at home so I applied after hearing about this.
“Now, after completing my training, I get to cuddle children!”
Launched by the city’s Franciszek Raszeja Hospital, the project is the first of its kind in Poland and was created to provide infants with attention that they might not otherwise receive.
Writing on their website, the hospital said: “There are situations when a parent of a newborn is unable to stay with the child – maybe they might feel ill, or the mother might need to take care of another child.”
In cases such as this, the volunteers of Senior Maluszka Tuli fill the breach to cuddle the children so as to reduce their anxiety levels.
According to scientific studies, touch can also help premature babies gain weight faster. Moreover, cuddles also stimulate the secretion of endorphins.
Barbara Grochal, the co-founder of the initiative, said: “Young mothers are sometimes sick, or they might just be afraid of their new role or simply in a bad mood.
“When this happens, they’re unable to give a child attention, and it’s impossible for the hospital staff to hug every crying newborn. Volunteers though can fill this gap.”
Subject to an intensive vetting procedure and, among other things, training courses involving health and safety, the programme has also been beneficial for the volunteers.
The organisers said: “Some volunteer because they feel lonely. Others because they have a void to fill having already raised children, while others have no grandchildren, so this is a kind of substitute.
“Of course, many are simply motivated by compassion and a desire to do something good.”