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06:55 AM

Cedars-Sinai's Tiniest Babies Dress Up for Halloween

Even During the Pandemic, Parents of Babies in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit Get to Celebrate and Dress Their Infants in Handmade Costumes

It's a happy Halloween in the Cedars-Sinai Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, where the medical center's tiniest babies and their families are the stars of the festivities. In an annual tradition, parents of babies in the NICU were able to dress their infants in one-of-a-kind, handmade costumes.

Sewn by hospital volunteers and nurses, the costumes are specially designed to fit the tiny babies, and use Velcro and ties to accommodate medical tubes.

"Dressing their babies in costume really helps parents to normalize the hospital experience," said Bevin Merideth, RN, an assistant nurse manager in the unit. "They have fun, they take pictures, their babies look adorable, and it makes great memories for them during a difficult time."

The costumes are based on popular children's book characters. Dorothy Williams, a former Cedars-Sinai employee and a one-time NICU mom, started the program 22 years ago. Williams sews many of the costumes herself and in recent years, her granddaughters – who suggested the costumes' fictional characters theme – have joined her.

NICU Parents Joanna and Yaniv Zioni picked a Superman costume for their baby boy, who was born at 25 weeks and was nicknamed "Little Miracle." He needed surgery a week after birth and was quite sick and fragile.

"He is night and day from where he was," said Joanne Zioni, "and that's why he is our Superman." The couple was excited to dress their son for Halloween and share pictures with their family, including two siblings at home who will dress up in super hero costumes as well.

Cedars-Sinai healthcare workers also join the fun and come to work in costume. This year, a group of nurses are dressing as kangaroos to symbolize "kangaroo care," which is when moms and dads hold their babies skin-to-skin. Others are dressing as fish from the famed Dr. Seuss book "One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish."

Parents are able to take home both the costumes and the books that come with them, and many former NICU parents say they save the costumes to show their children just how small they once were.

" We appreciate the opportunity to have some fun and enjoy the festivities while we are still in the hospital," said Joanne. "To us, no matter what they are dressed as, all our healthcare workers are superheroes as well."