Someone You Should Know: The Baby Rocker

SIOUX FALLS, S.D.-It’s critical that babies who are born prematurely receive a lot of attention while in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, but parents can’t always be there. At the Sanford NICU, volunteers give the babies some much needed TLC. KDLT’s Miranda Paige introduces us to this week’s “Someone You Should Know.”

Judy Burk is known as the “baby whisperer.” She’s always had a knack for rocking, talking and singing a baby to sleep. So becoming a “baby rocker” in the Sanford NICU was a perfect fit.

“I think the infants need to be rocked. I think they need the touch. I think they need the communication,” said Burk.

She started volunteering five years ago. Before that, she worked in the medical field for 50 years, but had to retire to take over her husband’s business after he passed away.

“I didn’t want the business to be all-consuming, so I wanted to volunteer and I thought what better way to volunteer and to care than with the infants,” said Burk.

Her job is to rock the premie babies giving them human interaction, warmth and security. Experts say cuddling can help with the baby’s brain development. Burk also likes to talk and read to them.

“I like to tell them stories.”

She does this in the hope that someday they can tell their own.

“The breath patterns that a child experiences as we’re holding them makes them a better communicator in their adult life,” said Burk.

To be a successful baby rocker, Burk says you have to be caring and she takes her job very seriously.

“They’re fighting actually for their lives, some of them. You know they’re born with very, their weight is very little,” said Burk.

Over the years, she’s rocked quite a few babies and loves to see their progress.

“They grow and you can see how the parents blossom also in this experience,” said Burk.

The babies are able to grow and mature thanks to Burk’s help. You never know where that could take them.

“You could be rocking the president. You could be rocking architects. You could be rocking a nurse, a doctor. You could be rocking any one of those professions,” said Burk.

Right now, Sanford has 98 baby rocker volunteers. They have a waiting list as it’s the most requested position.

If you’re interested in learning more or how to apply, visit the link here:

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