NICU Volunteering

Specialties NICU


Hi! I am hoping someone out there will have some ideas for me. I am a mom of 3 young children and am looking to do some volunteering with NICU babies or in OB or in the healthy baby nursery. I absolutely love babies - have my entire life - that's why I have 3 and can't wait for the 4th. I also love the whole birth process and the little miracles that occur everyday. I eventually - when all of my children are in school - want to get into this type of work (not sure yet whether nursing, midwife, doula...). This is a passion I have and thought if I could start by volunteering some time in the NICU cuddling and feeding babies or in some other type of volunteering that involves OB and newborns I could help others and learn about more about OB and newborns. I live in the W-B/Scranton PA area. If anyone has any suggestions, thoughts or thinks this is a crazy idea, please respond. I desperately want to learn about this field of work and want to donate some of my time. I want to be with my babies until they have to go to school but would also like to begin fulfill this desire to be part of the miraculous field of birth and babies.


I don't think it's crazy! Contact the volunteer department of your area hospitals. Good luck!


492 Posts

Specializes in Adult ICU/PICU/NICU.

I am delighted to read your post about volunteering at an NICU. Im certain that you would be a great asset. I would recommend contacting the volunteer services department of a hospital near you. All of our critical care units have several volunteers that work a four hour shift per week and they are all beautiful people. Some of the NICU volunteers have a support group for NICU parents and parents of the NICU "graduates".

Best wishes on volunteering!


131 Posts

It's nice that you would like to volunteer!

My particular hospital probably would not let you into the NICU- we are very, strict and limited about who is allowed in, but there are others in the area who would.

I think I sense a future nurse!! Good luck!

llg, PhD, RN

13,469 Posts

Specializes in Nursing Professional Development.

As others have suggested, contact the volunteer department of your local hospitals and see what they have to say.

Having worked (as an advance-practice NICU nurse) with lots of volunteers over the years, here are a couple of tips for you.

1. Don't be surprised if your early experiences as a volunteer are a bit disapointing. A lot of people have unrealistic expectations about being "angels of mercy" or "saving lives," getting to spend lots of time with saintly children. They can be disappointed with the reality. Healthy babies usually have parents that want to feed them ... and really sick or premature ones require special skills to feed. Hospitals can't just allow any stranger off the street with no special training to come in and work with their patients. They may limit your direct contact with some (if not all) of the patients -- particularly at first.

2. Be prepared to do some tasks as a volunteer that don't even have direct patient contact. That's the kind of help a lot of hospitals need most. If you are truely interested in helping the patients, that will be OK with you. As the hospital gets to know you, they may entrust you with more complex tasks.

3. Be dependable and keep regular hours. If you are just "dropping in when it's convenient," the people at the unit level are less likely to plan on having you there -- and not have activities planned for you to do. If they know that they can count on you to be there at a certain time, they are more likely to develop trust in you and more likely to invest in your training. More training equals more opportunity to do the kinds of tasks you would like to do.

4. Talk to the volunteer coordinator, unit manager, etc. (whoever is appropriate for that hospital) and REALLY LISTEN to what they have to say about the role of volunteers at their hospital. Take their advice about to get the experiences you want. It may not be exactly what you envision, but if you are reliable and trustworthy, it may develop into something you enjoy.

Good luck,


unikuelady, RN

141 Posts

I too LOVE to cuddle with babies. I was a volunteer "baby snuggler" for 5 years at my local childrens hospital. It was a l-o-n-g process of getting interviewed by the hospital volunteer coordinator-then the pediatric unit volunteer coordinator. I had to have 3 letters of recommendation, be finger printed, have a health screening and TB test done. When I passed that phase, I had 2 days of inservice training which included hospital policy and procedures, safety issues, patient privacy, infection control,.....etc. Then I had to work with the general pediatric population as a playroom volunteer-under the supervision of the child-life specialist. (to observe how I interacted with the children). After about a year-I applied to work as a NICU baby snuggler. Again, another round of interview with the NICU volunteer coordinator, classes on how to hold, interact with these fragile children. Then one-on-one training with the volunteer coordinator for a week. I did this all while going to college for my pre-reqs and during nursing school. I didn't realize that It would be soooooo difficult to volunteer to "hold and rock a baby". The experience was more than worth it.:) I soon realized how VALUABLE I was as a snuggler to the nursing staff. It is VERY important to them to be reliable, as well as to the babies. It's all too true that some of these hospitalized babies/children have families that won't or are unable to visit and care for them. The nurses do their best to give as much time and attention to each one as they are able. Please do volunteer in any way that you can. You will be greatly rewarded. :kiss

former NICU snuggler and now NICU nurse.

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