A volunteer slips her arms into a gauzy yellow hospital gown and approaches a medical crib holding a tiny newborn hooked up to noisy machines.
‘‘OK,’’ she says, with a smile. ‘‘Baby time.’’
That means cuddle time in the neonatal intensive care unit at the University of Chicago’s Comer Children’s Hospital. Here, as at several other hospitals around the country, strangers offer a simple yet powerful service for newborns too tiny or sick to go home.