From the NICU to the Moon: Doctor baby

Images courtesy of Children's Healthcare of Atlanta

In "From the NICU to the Moon," premature babies are transformed into tiny dreamers using a little Photoshop magic.

All of the unbearably cute models featured in the photo project were brought into the world between 25 and 37 weeks gestation — some with limbs barely thicker than a pencil. They spent the weeks following their birth gaining strength at the neonatal intensive care unit at Scottish Rite Hospital, which is run by Children's Healthcare of Atlanta (CHOA).

From the NICU to the Moon: Astronaut baby

Although it's true that infant brains are running vigorously to process knowledge during sleep, you might be surprised to learn that babies technically do not dream — or at least not in the way one traditionally thinks of "dreaming."

Even so, it's fun to imagine what might be going on in their minds as they snooze.

From the NICU to the Moon: Ballerina

Jessica Wright, one of Scottish Rite's skilled NICU nurses, often imagines that the fragile preemies she takes care of will grow up to be astronauts, firefighters, Olympic gold medalists or even the president of the United States.

"I always think big because, as evidenced by the size of the fight in their tiny bodies, these little ones have big things in store for the world," Wright explains.

From the NICU to the Moon: Chef

The photographs were captured by a hospital employee on Aug. 29 and illustrated by designers at the Atlanta-based branding agency Matchstic. They were published to bring attention to the hospital's Safe Sleep hub, which provides safe sleeping tips and resources for parents of newborns.

From the NICU to the Moon: Gymnast

Catie Leary ( @catieleary ) writes about science, travel, animals and the arts.