The neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) of a hospital can be a difficult, scary place sometimes, but to bring joy to the parents of NICU patients, hospitals around the country this week are dressing up their patients in tiny Halloween costumes.
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NICUs dress up for Halloween
At Henry Ford Health System in Michigan, NICU patients celebrated their first Halloween with costumes made by the health system's NICU staff, including a mermaid, a ladybug, and more.
At Cook Children's Medical Center, NICU staff dressed up their patients in costumes that ranged from Wonder Woman to Yoda to little animals.
Meanwhile, at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta (CHOA), Tara Fankhauser, a nurse in the NICU, spent months crocheting costumes for her patients.
According to CHOA, Fankhauser began knitting the costumes in the spring, and last year, knit over 30 costumes for her NICU patients. "What started out as a hobby has quickly become a hospital tradition that brings joy to our families and staff," CHOA said in a statement.
At Methodist Germantown Hospital in Tennessee, Callie Lillard, a NICU nurse at the hospital, said she noticed holidays can be difficult for parents of patients, especially after they see social media posts of friends celebrating with healthy children. So, to help make the holiday easier, Methodist dresses up their babies in costumes as well.
"We have a lot of hard, sad, and scary days in NICU, but we also have days of joy—so we want to give the parents a sense of normalcy as much as we can," Lillard said.
Halloween costumes serve a similar purpose at the NICU at Saint Luke's Health System in Missouri. Helen Ransom, a volunteer with March of Dimes who helped dress and photograph the costumed patients at Saint Luke's, said, "Even though it's a hard time, it's still an important time in their baby's life, and I want them, 20 years down the road, to be able to look back at these images and show their child, 'Look how tiny you were.'"
James Renno, whose daughter is in the NICU at Saint Luke's and was dressed up as a cheerleader, said he appreciates the costumes. "It's awesome. We get to spend the holiday with her here, but we still get to see her," he said. "We get to have fun with her. We get to dress her up. We get to take pictures with her" (Ball, WXYZ, 10/29; Brown, Yahoo!, 10/28; WHDH, 10/30; Watts, Memphis Commercial Appeal, 10/29; Eckerman, KMBC, 10/29).