Precious gifts that couldn't wait

These bubs are so tiny they’re dwarfed inside a Santa hat, and some won’t be strong enough to make it home for Christmas. 

But this adorable attire is helping put a smile on the faces of families of premature babies in the special care nursery at Melbourne’s St Vincent’s Private Hospital over the festive season.

“For us just to give them that little bit of joy over the Christmas time is pretty special for everyone,” says Nurse Unit Manager Seona Emanuelli.

baby wearing Christmas hat

Emanuelli says visiting the special and intensive care nursery can be a very confronting experience for many parents, particularly at Christmas.

“It’s a really difficult time of year for a lot of our families, they’re going through a journey that’s probably a little different to what they had their mind set on while they were pregnant, so we support them throughout the special care experience,” says Emanuelli.

Staff have found an outfit to suit every baby’s unique needs; rompers, singlets, stockings and even accessories for those who can’t wear clothes because of their treatment.

“For some of the bubs in isolettes (incubators) we might just pop on a Christmas hat or some booties,” says Emanuelli.

This cuteness overload not only lightens the mood, but it provides a talking point among families going through similar experiences.

“You’ve got no shortage of mums willingly putting their babies in several different outfits,” says Emanuelli. “It actually helps them come together and talk about what is happening and they do make good friends with each other.”

Emanuelli says it’s not uncommon for some babies to spend weeks or months in the special care nursery, and so the staff and parents often become really close, like a family.

“When the families do come in on Christmas day, we’ll celebrate as a whole with staff, families and babies.”

baby yawn

Here are some tips to help those with a child in hospital at Christmas time:

  • If your loved one is open to it, visit the family while they’re at the hospital. While generally only immediate family can enter the nursery, being there for mum and dad is a lovely gesture.
  • Take photos of the new baby back to the family at home so they feel included.
  • Set up a video call from a family Christmas event so everyone can send their love.
  • Send a card, or make a video or phone call.
  • Bring some Christmas treats or a picnic basket into hospital for Mum and Dad.
  • Offer to help out with any jobs or errands at home to take the pressure off.
baby in incubator wearing Christmas socks
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