Hugs really do help heal sick kids, expert reveals

When your child comes running to you, giant tears sliding down their cheeks and their little knees spotted with blood, they want the one thing that makes everything better – a hug. It’s a tried and true method to soothe a hurt or sick child, but it’s been revealed that hugging actually holds genuine healing powers.

There’s nothing quite like a hug from mum or dad, no matter how young or old you are. But a new study has revealed a simple hug can do so much more than just put a smile back on your child’s face – it’s actually a really important tool in healing sick kids.


The study details that an overwhelming 99 per cent of Australian midwives and nurses believe that hugs and affection play an important part in the healing process for sick kids, and 98 per cent agree that hugs actually help children recover quicker from illness. Mums agree, with two thirds saying hugs calm their child.

Sydney Children’s Hospital Head of Child Life Therapy, Janet Burke tells Babyology it follows on from earlier research on orphans in Romania.

“When we saw that these kids didn’t actually physically develop because they didn’t get nurturing human touch, people suddenly went, ‘Oh my gosh it’s more than a hug or a pat on the back, it actually is required for development’.”


Ms Burke says hugs and touch are an essential part of recovery for children in hospital, with physical contact helping to reduce heart rates and blood pressure, increase immunity, and make kids feel better. “It’s incredibly significant and incredibly important, especially to little kids because there’s so much development in that zero to four timeline. It’s just such a crucial period of development.”

Children’s Hospital Foundations Australia and Huggies are now calling on Babyologists to throw their arms around sick Aussie kids, by funding much-needed equipment. It’s the third year Huggies has partnered in the Hugs for Healing initiative, which supports five Australian children’s hospitals, including the Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne and the Sydney Children’s Hospital.


Sydney Children’s Hospital Foundation CEO Leanne Warner says every year, more than 1.65 million treatments are provided to sick and injured children by these hospitals.

“The number of children visiting our hospitals grows each year, and to be able to accommodate for this we need support. Now in its third year, the Huggies Hugs for Healing initiative has helped to purchase essential machines such as BabyTherm infant warming systems for neonatal, monitors for children undergoing surgery and important machines for our Newborn Intensive Care Units. But there is more work to be done,” Ms Warner says.


The equipment is used to help kids like Payton, pictured above, who was born with bowel problems, and has had to return to the Sydney Children’s Hospital for treatment several times during her short life. Payton’s mum Sharon says, “Though it was tough being in hospital around Christmas, the nurses, doctors and staff were all just fabulous, They really make it a special time for the kids, despite everything they’re going through.”

This month, Huggies will donate $1 to Children’s Hospital Foundations Australia, from every Huggies Nappies Bulk pack sold, up to $150,000. This year the Foundation hopes to purchase a High Resolution Gastrointestinal Manometer for NSW, insulin pumps for WA, and a neonatal incubator for South Australia. For more information on how to donate, head to Huggies Hugs for Healing.

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