Besides them happening super-fast (both under 5 hours) I had two perfectly ‘normal’ births. This term is relative, of course. While scary and new and a tad painful, it’s hard to imagine how my experience would have changed with just one complication. In contrast to my own, so many new mothers are unable to hold their babies right after birth. Many don’t get a chance to follow a carefully thought out birth plan. And thousands give birth, unexpectedly, to premature babies.

Gillian and GranddaughterThose of us without experience don’t realize the full ramifications of giving birth so early. Thankfully, Huggies does. A hug might be simple, low-tech and often taken for granted, but research has proven that hugs help stimulate growth and development in babies. For little ones born prematurely, this nurturing contact is critical.

NoBabyUnhuggedOften, parents of premature babies have traveled hundreds of miles to get care for their newborns in a proper neonatal intensive care unit, or NICU. Many have other children who need attention as well. Some mothers are so exhausted that an extra four hours holding, rocking, and singing to a baby whilst foregoing sleep is not a possibility. This is where the Huggies ‘No Baby Unhugged’ program comes into play.

NICU Nanaimo GeneralLaunching at select hospitals across Canada, the #NoBabyUnhugged program facilitates extra contact for premature babies by trained volunteer huggers. For parents and nursing staff, immense pressure is relieved. For the babies, the extra contact results in shorter hospital stays, decreased anxiety, increased growth, less crying, healthier brain development and less illness.

I had the opportunity to celebrate the launch of the program at the Victoria General Hospital last spring, and at the Nanaimo Regional General Hospital this week – just in time for National Hugging Day on January 21st! Every year, this hospital cares for 275-300 vulnerable babies in their NICU. I met two of the volunteer huggers who were over-the-moon with enthusiasm for the program.

Nano Preemie DIaperIn addition to the volunteer huggers now installed at four hospitals across Canada, Huggies leads the field in special diapers for vulnerable babies, as well. The Nano Preemie diapers are produced twice a year and supply premature babies in hospitals across North America. Designed in partnership with NICU nurses, these diapers are made with the gentlest features and textures to help protect highly sensitive preemie skin. They fit around the umbilical cord and are already curved to eliminate the need for little muscles to work them in. Each diaper is hand-packaged in a sterile environment, and there is even a signature inside the box of the professional who packed them. These tiny diapers certainly made me hunger to hug a few babies! (above photo: Janice Croze).

Huggies Nano PreemieAt the Nanaimo launch this week, Huggies representative Alicia Cameron spoke of the brand’s commitment to helping premature babies develop through the No Baby Unhugged program. She was bursting with excitement and passion to expand to as many hospitals as possible. I got teary-eyed as I spoke to Gillian, the grandmother of a baby born prematurely addicted to herion and fentanyl. Gillian’s hugs helped soothe her granddaughter, and meeting them both showcased the true power of this program. Her story is highlighted on the Huggies Facebook page here. Grab a few tissues!

Volunteer HuggersFor the volunteer program, Huggies provides funding to partner hospitals to help provide special volunteer training, rocking chairs, positioning devices, and more.

Despite having healthy, full-term babies who are almost tweens now, I will be giving them extra snuggles tonight as we talk about the power of hugs for growth and development. Hopefully, they will spread the word about how loving hugs help skyrocket health – particularly in vulnerable preemies.

Jill Amery CuddleYou can do the same! Pledge your support for the No Baby Unhugged initiative at When you do, you’ll receive a free pack of Huggies diapers and wipes, and in return, Huggies will donate $5 to hugging programs in Canada.

Don’t forget that January 21st is National Hugging Day!

Disclosure: This article was made possible by Huggies. All opinions are my own.