Cooing, giggling and the patter of tiny feet mix with the sound of walkers and wheelchairs at a nursing home in southern Japan. In this graying nation, one home has been recruiting an unusual class of workers to enliven its residents' days: thirty-two children. These are "baby workers," as the nursing home's head likes to call them. They are all under 4 years old who spend time with its residents, who are mostly in their 80s. Residents strike up conversations with the young helpers. The babies, accompanied by their parents or guardians, offer residents a hug. The visitors' reward? Diapers, baby formula, free baby photo shoots and coupons for a nearby cafe. "They are just so cute, and they make the whole place brighter," said Ms. Nakano, a resident of the Ichoan Nursing Home. "Young energy is different."

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