Feeling the Love: 7-10 Year Waiting List to Cuddle Newborns at Northwest Texas Hospital


You could call them VICs: Very Important Cuddlers.

Seven days a week they’re providing much needed TLC to dozens of babies at Northwest Texas Hospital.
And you may think you have what it takes to be a cuddler but many are called but few are chosen.

Just a few love pats for little baby Amila. 

She’s nestled away, without a care in the world in the arms of this woman.

“You feel like you’re helping them because they need the human contact and they say they grow better and get healthier faster. But it does something for me too. You just could hold them all day and hug on them,” said Kay McKnight, Northwest Texas Hospital Cuddler for Two Years. 

There’s no relation—but you can’t deny the connection.

Kay McKnight is one of the faithful volunteers at Northwest Texas Hospital—known as cuddlers.

“Being an NICU where we do transport a lot of patients into the hospital, sometimes families are several hours away and have to go back and forth. And so that’s kind of where cuddling initially started, was to help families when they did have to go back,” said Becky Imel, Child-Life Specialist at Northwest Texas Hospital. 

She’s been coordinating the cuddling program since 2004. 

Back then they started with just one and have slowly worked there way up to 20.
McKnight says it took a couple of years before she got the call she’s been waiting for….she was going to be a cuddler.

“I feel special and it’s really a good job, best job I’ve ever had,” said McKnight. 

But others are not so fortunate. 

We’re told there’s a 60 person waiting list.

“We’re estimating our wait time of about 7 to 10 years,” said Imel.

One person has been waiting for 8 years…

So if you plan on signing up to be a cuddler… Well…

“One day,” said Imel.

It might be a while…

Unlike Northwest Hospital, there isn’t a specific group of people known as cuddlers at BSA.

But we’re told all registered nurse staff collaborates care with parents to provide cuddles and quality care to every baby.   

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