Intermountain Healthcare Nurses Stand in for Santa for ‘My First Christmas’ Photos with Fragile Babies in Newborn ICUs

“My First Christmas with Santa” photos continued this year at newborn ICUs at Intermountain Healthcare’s Intermountain Medical Center and Intermountain Primary Children’s Hospital, thanks to St. Nick’s special helper nurses. 

It’s tradition at the hospitals for tiny patients in the newborn ICUs to celebrate their first Christmas by being photographed in the arms of Santa Claus. 

“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 newborn ICU nurse manager. “For years in our NICU we’ve had Santa come in and meet and take pictures with our tiny patients. Then when COVID hit, and even Santa wasn’t’ allowed to visit, we had to find something different to do.” 

Volunteers, pediatric specialty nurses, child life specialists and fellow caregivers stepped in as Santa’s helpers to make sure “My First Christmas” pictures could continue for these tiny babies and their families.

Primary Children’s caregivers and Intermountain Medical Center volunteers secured a white beard and potbelly, gloves, and a red furry coat. They donned Santa’s gear, then cradled tiny infants in their arms for a close-up picture to give to each baby’s parents to cheer them during the holidays. The pictures show the caregiver from the beard to belt, and hide their masked faces.  

Nurses say the photo with Santa is an important part of caring for the fragile babies and their families during the holidays, and a fun and exciting way to continue the joy of the season. Families often use the pictures on Christmas cards and other holiday greetings. 

“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 Santa’s helper Jo Duff, assistant nurse manager in the Primary Children’s newborn ICU. “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.”




Media Note: B-roll and images available by contacting Jennifer Toomer-Cook at the email listed.

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