Local groups need volunteers to nurture newborns in need

You'll find plenty of ways to volunteer around Atlanta, but nothing feels sweeter than spending your time helping babies. Some of Georgia's tiniest residents need your help, and some of the local non-profit and community groups in the area know just how you can help.

» Parents can now watch live video of NICU babies at North Fulton hospital

Donating your time nurturing newborns (and children) in need with a few of these ideas:

Become a NICU volunteer

Volunteering in a hospital NICU means a whole lot more than just cuddling and rocking babies. If you really want to make a difference in life of a newborn, you'll find two nationally renown programs in the area.

Baby Buddies program at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta

Although the Baby Buddies program at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta has a pretty long waiting list, you might think it's well worth the wait. In the program with a year-long commitment, volunteers read to premature babies and help them strengthen their tiny muscles so that they have the best chance in life.

Egleston Hospital. 1405 Clifton Road NE, Atlanta. 404-785-5437. www.choa.org

Baby Care Volunteer at Northside Hospital

Volunteers in the Family Centered Care and Special Care Nursery at Northside Hospital help care for newborns by setting up rooms, looking after equipment and materials, feeding and caring for infants and visiting with the new parents and extended family. Northside suggests that this volunteer position will work well for someone who is very focused, independent, detail-oriented, proactive and confident.

Northside Hospital-Atlanta Auxiliary. 1000 Johnson Ferry Road NE, Atlanta. 404-851-8707. www.northsideatlaux.com.

Knit hats for newborns

It's important to keep those little heads warm, and a couple of Atlanta programs are keeping babies toasty while helping important causes at the same time. If you love to knit or crochet, this one's for you.

Little Hats Big Hearts

The Little Hats Big Hearts program from the American Heart Association hope to empower and encourage moms around the country to live heart-healthy lives by raising awareness about congenital heart defects and heart health. In connection with The Children's Heart Foundation, Volunteers offer their time knitting (or crocheting) red hats for babies.

Little Hats Big Hearts Georgia. Contact: Jan Murphy. jan.murphy@heart.org. 1101 North Chase Parkway, Suite 1. Marietta. www.heart.org

Click for Babies

The Click for Babies initiative was created to bring awareness to the dangers of shaking or harming an infant out of frustration, and to provide solutions to help parents cope with crying. As part of the program, volunteers around Georgia can knit or crochet soft, purple-colored baby hats by September 30th, which will be delivered to local babies in November and December.

Click for Babies at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta. Contact: Kara Klein. 404-785-7694. kara.klein@choa.org. www.clickforbabies.org

Help foster families in need

Foster families are created out of love and developed out of need, but sometimes new foster parents need a little help. Babysitting for foster families in the area is one way you can offer your support and encouragement.

Babysit for FaithBridge Atlanta

As a babysitter for FaithBridge Atlanta, you'll spend 5 to 20 hours per month volunteering your time with babies and children so that their foster parents can go on date nights, attend foster parent training classes and go to appointments. This program requires a year-long commitment from volunteers.

FaithBridge Atlanta. 4400 North Point Parkway, Suite 210, Alpharetta. 678-690-7100. www.faithbridgefostercare.org.

Watch babies and children at the Foster Care Support Foundation

The Foster Care Support Foundation needs volunteers at their Distrubution Center to help play with babies, toddlers and children while foster parents shop for the items they need at the center.

FCSF Distribution Center. 115 Mansell Place, Roswell. 770-641-9591. www.fostercares.org