For many parents of newborns in neonatal intensive care units across the country, the very best holiday gift would be able to take their healthy babies home. But because that's not possible just yet for 31 preemies at one Missouri hospital, nurses and volunteers dressed up the newborns as holiday gifts to celebrate those tiny lives and to alleviate some of the added stress on their families this year — and, predictably, the result was beyond adorable. March of Dimes teamed up with Saint Luke's Hospital of Kansas City right in the midst of the holiday season, even bringing Santa Claus to the scene to promote the holiday magic. Most importantly, though, these well-wishers made sure that there were photographers on hand to capture the endless stream of cute.
Of course, the real goal of the endeavor wasn't to provide a daily dose of precious to the general public — although it definitely did do that — but to show support for parents bound to the NICU when they'd normally be home getting ready to celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, or Kwanzaa. "So providing these special families with an opportunity to celebrate the holidays in a memorable way allows them a sense of normalcy, and an opportunity to celebrate their babies' first milestones — even in the hospital — which is what every family wants to do!" hospital spokesperson Michelle Manuel wrote in a statement to Scary Mommy, noting that the holiday season can be an especially emotional time for NICU families.
The NICU staff started brainstorming festive ideas for the holiday season right after Halloween, when they dedicated that holiday to decking the preemies out in miniscule superhero costumes like Superman, Captain America, Batman, and Wonder Woman, as KTLA 5 reported at the time. This time, instead of the Halloween treats that families received then, they became the recipients of a keepsake "Twas the Night Before Christmas" card that featured the baby's footprint, a hand-crocheted Santa bag filled with candy, a hand-crocheted Santa hat or girl’s cap with a bow, and a holiday children's book, as March of Dimes told Scary Mommy.
And then there was the real attraction, the babies themselves: Sporting bows and knit Santa caps, they were the epitome of the gift of "life potential," a journey they'll be embarking on as soon as they're healthy enough to leave the NICU.
The newborns' parents were impressed, as one mother of NICU twin girls told ABC News. "It makes us feel like we’re part of a community and not like we’re in this on our own," Kaitlyn Bunch said.
It will be a tough gift to beat, and one that will surely be remembered after the babies celebrate future holidays at home with their families.