Human Interest

Christmas cheer comes to NICUs across the country


The tiniest patients in hospitals across the country got to experience some of the Christmas spirit, thanks to the efforts of NICU staff and volunteers going the extra mile to make sure the holiday was joyous.

In Nashville, Tennessee, nurses Kim Meek and Olivia Horne created handmade holiday sweaters at Ascension St. Thomas. Parents and volunteers got into the spirit as well, making matching crocheted hats.

Tallahassee Memorial Healthcare’s NICU babies made Elf on the Shelf look a whole lot cuter! Each infant was dressed in their own handmade elf costume, and their own adorable note to make the gift complete.

Kansas City got into the Christmas spirit, with Santa visiting the NICU at St. Luke’s. Each infant, dressed up as a precious gift, got to take a special photo with St. Nick, one their parents will surely cherish forever.

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Summerville Medical Center in South Carolina turned its NICU into a magical place! With a “Babes in Candyland” theme, each child was dressed as a different yummy treat — AND Santa stopped by for a visit!

Another NICU had a visit from Old St. Nick, this time at North Central Baptist Hospital in San Antonio, Texas. Each baby got to visit Santa Claus, and the parents all got an SD card with the pictures on it, so they can keep the memory safe.

There are no Grinches allowed at Henry Ford Health’s NICU in Detroit! One of the nurses made heart-warming outfits for each baby, inspired by classic Christmas books.

The NICU at Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital in Grand Rapids, Michigan held an ugly Christmas sweater contest for their tiny patients. Amy Nyberg, March of Dimes NICU Family Support program coordinator, came up with the idea, according to a hospital press release. Whichever family gets the most votes will receive a gift basket as a prize.

Methodist Children’s Hospital in San Antonio, Texas carried on a 58-year tradition, with NICU babies receiving a handmade Christmas stocking and cap. Each one is made by a member of Blue Bird Auxiliary, the hospital’s volunteer group.

UPMC North Central PA celebrated their infants at Christmas with handmade Christmas tree hats and onesies. “We are so excited to celebrate the holiday newborns again this year along with the rest of the UPMC Magee-Womens network,” Brenda Terry-Manchester, director of women’s services, said on Facebook. “The newborns are the greatest gift of joy, not only for their parents but for our team members who get to share these special moments with the families. An added bonus is celebrating on such a grand scale alongside our Magee colleagues across the system, representing a united front of world-class maternity care delivered at each participating labor and delivery unit.”

Premature infants are surviving at younger and younger ages thanks to medical advancements, particularly if they’re given active care. Though spending the holidays in the hospital is never ideal, many hospitals go above and beyond to make them a little more festive and bright for families in the NICU.

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