The babies in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) at Saint Luke's Hospital in Kansas City, Missouri, will spend Halloween there instead of dressing up and heading around the neighborhood with family and friends. But that doesn't mean the holiday won't be special.
Nurses from the hospital and volunteers from the March of Dimes created handmade Halloween costumes for the three dozen or so infants in the NICU. "We were really just trying to create a sense of normalcy for the parents," said Saint Luke's Director of Media Relations Michelle Manuel. "You never know if you are going to be in the NICU for weeks or even months.This was such a fun way to let them enjoy a special milestone with their babies."
The babies' parents chose the outfits they thought most reflected their child's personality. There were ladybugs, butterflies, baseball players and, not surprisingly, a lot of superheroes in the bunch. That's because “these are our NICU super babies," Manuel said.
It was the second year for the Halloween NICU dress up. It was so popular that the costumes came out for a new group of infants this Halloween. The parents are given the photos as a keepsake.
“Every day a child is in the NICU can be frightening and uncertain, but holidays are especially tough, as families miss the normal joys of celebrations at home.” says Rebecca Keunen, March of Dimes/ NICU Family Support Coordinator at Saint Luke’s. “Baby’s first Halloween is a day they’ll want to remember and celebrate and March of Dimes is here with them at Saint Luke’s to help.”
After the babies were dressed, volunteer photographers for the March of Dimes captured photos of the infants' first Halloween. The photographers are mothers of former NICU babies, so working with the tiny subjects is especially meaningful to them.
The babies were also given mini hand-crocheted pumpkins filled with treats, a Halloween book, and a "Trick or Treat, smell my feet" card featuring their baby's footprints.
The Halloween surprise got a great response from everyone involved, said Manuel.
"This was met with such great success. Our parents really enjoyed it and our nurses and the March of Dimes volunteers had so much fun."
In fact, the event was so popular last year, that the babies were wrapped up as "perfect gifts" for their parents while Santa stopped by the NICU to visit the tiny residents. This year's infants also will be dressed as gifts this holiday season. Can you think of a more precious gift?
Editor's note: This file was originally published October 2016 and has been updated.