NICU babies meet Santa Claus for the first time at Intermountain Hospital

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(Courtesy of Intermountain Hospital)

SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – Newborns spending the holidays in the Newborn Intensive Care unit joined in on the Christmas spirit.

NICU babies at Intermountain Primary Children’s Hospital and Intermountain Medical Center got to meet Santa Claus himself with the help of NICU nurses.

“It’s hard to have a baby in the NICU at any time, but around the holidays, the stress and sadness can hit new levels,” said Alice Casper, RN, Intermountain Medical Center NICU nurse manager.

Nurses say every year, Santa usually visits the babies at Intermountain ICUs for “My First Christmas” photos, but due to COVID-19 health precautions, Santa was not allowed to visit this year.

A little setback wasn’t enough to damper the holiday cheer. Hospital nurses, volunteers, and caregivers got creative instead. They sourced a white beard, gloves, furry red coat, and of course, a jolly pot belly.

After donning Santa’s outfit, nurses held each baby for a special photo of their first meeting with Santa Claus.

Nurses say the tradition is not only a fun way to bring holiday cheer to the NICU, but many parents and families like to include the pictures on annual holiday cards.

“It’s Santa magic that we get to bring a slice of joy to these families who are stuck here, for lack of better words, during the holidays,” said Jo Duff, assistant nurse manager in the Primary Children’s NICU. “I know that these parents are entrusting us with their beautiful babies every single day, and it breaks my heart that they have to be here. So, if we can make it just a little bit brighter and joyful for them, it’s the greatest honor and privilege in my life.”

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