NICU Nurses stand in for Santa

Dec 16, 2021, 5:46 AM | Updated: 6:27 am
NICU nurse fills in for Santa Photo: Intermountain Primary Children’s Hospital and Intermountain ...
NICU nurse fills in for Santa Photo: Intermountain Primary Children’s Hospital and Intermountain Foundation.

SALT LAKE CITY — Nurses in the NICU subbed in for Santa Claus, holding babies for photographs of their first Christmas. 

The tradition of photographing babies with Santa Claus in the Intermountain Health Newborn ICU began four years ago.

When Santa Claus couldn’t come to town

In a Press Release, Intermountain explained when COVID-19 hit, Santa Claus wasn’t allowed into the NICU.

The special holiday photoshoots that make a difficult time for parents, caregivers, and families a little brighter, had a chance of not happening.

NICU staff wouldn’t allow their tiny patients to go without a chance to sit with Santa for their first Christmas. 

NICU nurses and staff filled in as Santa

Intermountain said volunteers, pediatric specialty nurses, child life specialists, and fellow caregivers stepped in as Santa’s helpers.

They tracked down St. Nick’s get-up, complete with a white fur trimmed red jacket and pants, a matching hat, and a white beard and potbelly.

Volunteer is photographed with a newborn baby in the NICU. Photo: Intermountain Primary Children’s Hospital and Intermountain Foundation

“It breaks my heart that they have to be here”

Intermountain Medical Center NICU nurse manager, Alice Casper, RN, said “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.” 

The opportunity for the NICU babies to photograph with Santa Claus for “my First Christmas” is one of the ways staff make a difficult time a little cheerier. 

“It’s Santa’s magic that we get to bring a slice of joy to these families” 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.”


“My First Christmas,” photo-op for newborn and their family. Photo: Volunteer is photographed with a newborn baby in the NICU. Photo: Intermountain Primary Children’s Hospital and Intermountain Foundation

The Intermountain press release explained that the pictures show the caregiver from the beard to belt, and hide their masked faces.

The release added that families often use the pictures on Christmas cards and in other holiday greetings. 

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NICU Nurses stand in for Santa