Hugs and a Cuddle for Abandoned Infants

Hugs and a Cuddle  for Abandoned InfantsHugs and a Cuddle  for Abandoned Infants

The ‘loving touch’ pilot plan is one way to compensate for the shortage of staff at child welfare centers, said Habibollah Masoudi Farid, deputy of social affairs at the State Welfare Organization (SWO).

“The plan aims to improve the psychological and emotional development of children under the age of one at SWO nurseries” by seeking the help of volunteers, the Students Network News (SNN) agency quoted him as saying.

Ideally, there should be one caregiver for every six infants at the SWO welfare centers. “Unfortunately at present, the caregiver to infant ratio is 1:12 and we need 500 more to fill the critical staff shortage. Since we can’t say when the gap will be bridged, we decided to launch a pilot project to provide ‘warm contact’ to the infants by involving volunteers.”  

Male and female volunteers willing to participate in the plan should fill a request form available on website and then send it to the email address at They should be married and be in the ages 28 to 50 years.

The pilot plan will be implemented soon in Shahid Torkamani welfare center located at Qazvin Square in Tehran Municipal District 11.

Children under the age of three are in dire need of daily love, affection and interaction to grow into healthy social adults. Children who have grown up in an emotional vacuum are more vulnerable to social harm, he noted.

“Volunteers should pass a psychological test. If selected, they should regularly visit the nurseries and cuddle infants. As a philanthropic act they won’t be paid for their services,” he said.

No timings will be imposed on volunteers and they can visit the center at any time of the day “to hug the babies.”


Around 23,000 children, who are either orphans, abandoned or have problematic parents, live under the supervision of the SWO. The permanent guardianship of between 1,100 and 1,200 orphans, constituting 13% of the total number under SWO supervision, is ceded to qualified families every year.

At present, there are 24 nurseries in Tehran Province and every month 57 babies are admitted to the nurseries. On average, each nursery has a capacity to shelter 60 babies, but many of them are forced to accept twice the number which is beyond their means.

Scientists have found that cuddling babies is socially beneficial in their later years. They found a clear link between love and attention in the early years and healthy emotional responses in later life.

Children who have been deprived of physical contact as babies have lower levels of the social-bonding hormones, researchers have found. Cuddling releases oxytocin, which is also known as the feel-good hormone.

This hormone is thought to be crucial in recognizing people in a social environment. Oxytocin also boosts immune system, relieves pain, helps deepen relationships, and reduces social anxiety and stress.