MADISON, NJ - After having four babies, Sharon Knightly -- a Bar Method client -- perfected the art of cuddling. Today, Knightly donates that well-honed skill to the NICU of a local hospital, holding and rocking newborns who are in need of one-on-one attention. Some of these babies were born premature, some were born to teen mothers, and some are suffering from NAS, or neonatal abstinence syndrome.
NAS is a group of symptoms that occur when a baby is born to a mother who is addicted to narcotics. Some of these symptoms are excessive crying, rapid breathing, and trembling.
Knightly first got the idea of volunteering to be a cuddler after her mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease. Knowing that some of her skills were diminishing, Knightly’s mom insisted that she could still be productive in some way. She always loved babies, and Knightly thought her mom would be a great candidate for a cuddling program. She made a number of inquiries but was unable to get anything off the ground before her mother’s disease entered its final stages.
After her mom died, Knightly began thinking that cuddling babies was something she herself should consider -- especially since she had recently sent her youngest child to college.
“I made another round of inquiries, and this time, I heard back,” said Knightly. “I knew it was something I had to try.”
Knightly said for her, cuddling newborns in need is almost like a luxury since all you need to do is cuddle -- which is, arguably, the best part of motherhood.
“Cuddlers don’t need to do any feedings in the middle of the night, and we don’t change dirty diapers,” she said. “All we do is cuddle and soothe. And I talk to them, too. I will tell a girl she has great eyebrows and I will tell a boy he has gorgeous eyes. I have found that they really respond to a cooing voice. They actually look around, searching for the source.”
The Bar Method Madison, which offers a variety of wellness programs that go far beyond exercise, was moved by Knightly’s involvement with the cuddler program. “I was just blown away to learn what Sharon is doing and knew our community would respond in a big way,” said Gina Striffler, owner, Bar Method Madison. “With little notice, we set up a fundraiser to support this beautiful and important program.”
Striffler reached out to another Madison retailer and together they decided to sell the most popular toy of the moment -- fidget spinners -- at both locations now through Sunday. A portion of the proceeds will be donated to the cuddler program at which Knightly volunteers.
“I am also happy to see many future-cuddlers raising their hands to volunteer their time and loving arms,” said Striffler. “We’re doing good in the name of motherhood and I love that!”
To purchase a fidget spinner for $20 and/or to make a donation, stop by the Bar Method anytime now through Sunday.