Once again this year, the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at Cedars-Sinai Guerin Children’s celebrated Halloween with special hand-sewn costumes for the medical center’s smallest babies. The costumes are designed for babies as little as 2 pounds and are based on characters in famous children’s books.
Favorites include Elsa from Frozen, a caterpillar from The Very Hungry Caterpillar, a ballerina from Angelina Ballerina, and lions, tigers and elephants, as well as several superheroes and pumpkins. The costumes fold over the babies to prevent any medical lines or tubing from being disturbed. For parents, it's a wonderful opportunity to photograph their babies’ first Halloween, even though they are in the hospital.
"Halloween in the NICU is a very special day for patient families and the staff," said Bevin Merideth, RN, associate director of the NICU. “The parents love dressing and photographing their babies. It's a great opportunity for families to celebrate their newborns and not focus on their medical issues."
NICU staff members also get into the holiday spirit, dressing in costume to make the NICU even more festive.
This year, parents Emily Hoffman and Levi Pappe dressed their newborn daughter Parker in a pumpkin costume, a longstanding family tradition. “It makes me very emotional,” said Hoffman.” Every baby in my family is dressed as a pumpkin for their first Halloween and it’s great that she gets to be a pumpkin here too. Even though it’s not ideal to be in the hospital, this makes it so special and means a lot to us.”
The Marudo family chose a caterpillar costume with the classic children’s book The Very Hungry Caterpillar for their baby Noah. “This is the book we read to him every day,” said mother Katherine Llamas. “It’s his favorite, and the costume fits him perfectly.”
Eugene Kim, MD, director of the Division of Pediatric General Surgery at Cedars-Sinai Guerin Children’s, was on hand watching families enjoy the festivities. “Halloween is arguably the most important holiday for children around the country,” Kim said. “To bring this to families here is an amazing event. The families love it.”
This year marks the 25th anniversary of the NICU costume celebration. The popular Halloween tradition was originally started by Dorothy Williams, a former Cedars-Sinai employee and volunteer. Williams still leads the sewing effort and is joined by her grandchildren, retired NICU staff and other volunteers, all of whom create and sew the special, one-of-a-kind costumes.
“Sewing these costumes brings as much joy to me as it does to the families,” said Williams. “I look forward to the tradition continuing for decades to come.”
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