US & Canada

A first Halloween for some tiny babies

Baby in a Captain America costume Image copyright Schaumburg Photography and March of Dimes
Image caption William Behnke was born at 25 weeks

Premature babies and their families generally miss out on celebrating holidays and big events like everyone else because the focus is just on getting big enough and well enough to go home.

So staff and volunteers at St Luke's Hospital in Kansas City, Missouri, decided this year to find a way for their smallest patients to mark their first Halloween.

They decided to get their sewing kits out and made pint-sized outfits for each of the 35 babies in their care at the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU).

Image copyright Schaumburg Photography and March of Dimes
Image caption Fritz and Jennifer Behnke, proud of their "little fighter" William

The mini dressing-up box includes outfits for Superman, Captain America, Batman, Wonder Woman, butterflies and the local baseball team, the Kansas City Royals.

Parents go to pick a costume which they feel suits their baby best and for Jennifer Behnke and her husband Fritz, Captain America was the only choice for their son William.

"He's our superhero and we call him Warrior William because he's such a little fighter," said Mrs Behnke.

William was born on 15 August at 25 weeks weighing just 1lb 1oz (481g). Ten weeks on and he has grown to a much healthier 4lb 11oz (2.1kg).

"You're in your own world for 12-16 hours a day when you're in the NICU and you don't know what's happening outside," said Mrs Behnke. "So it's great with Halloween coming up to be able to celebrate even though we're still in St Luke's."

Image copyright Sally Morrow and March of Dimes
Image caption The costumes included a Batman outfit
Image copyright Faces You Love Photography and March of Dimes
Image caption One baby was dressed as Wonder Woman

Michelle Manuel, a spokesman for the hospital, said US charity March of Dimes had come up with the idea of the Halloween costumes.

The charity focuses on raising awareness about premature babies and its local volunteers joined forces with the NICU nurses to make the little outfits out of felt.

Image copyright Schaumburg Photography and March of Dimes
Image caption Eleanor and her twin sister Abigail were both dressed as butterflies

"It's so positive to be able to mark Halloween which is their first milestone," said Ms Manuel.

"Being in the NICU can be a stressful and emotional time so to be able to provide the families with something normal and a way to make a good memory is great."

Image copyright Sally Morrow and March of Dimes
Image caption The costumes included the Kansas City Royals baseball kit

As well as the costumes each baby received a gift pack with a "Trick or Treat, smell my feet" card featuring their baby's footprints, a hand-crocheted pumpkin filled with sweets and a Halloween book.

Image copyright March of Dimes
Image caption The families also got special Trick or Treat gifts

By Annie Flury, UGC and Social News Team

More on this story