LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) -- A tradition continued: last Halloween, we brought you the heartwarming story of the NICU babies at Arkansas Children's Hospital, for the first time, getting to dress up for Halloween.
Thankfully for them, and admittedly for us, they've decided to carry on the tradition. But these costumes aren’t only one way ACH is putting a smile on their parents' faces.
About 12% of all births in the U.S. are preterm. It is one of the top causes of infant death in this country. New technologies and techniques at ACH are giving those babies a fighting chance here in Arkansas, so when they're older they'll get the opportunity to look back on adorable, sometimes embarrassing, photos of their first Halloween in the NICU.
"This is a new piece of technology that we've had in the NICU just in the last couple of years now. This is called a breast milk warmer,” explained Arkansas Children’s Hospital Neonatal Nursing Director, Luanne Jones.
It seems like something so simple, so obvious, but warm milk for a NICU baby is very critical.
"They don't burn precious calories trying to warm up the cold milk that we've actually put into their bodies," Jones said.
Jones explained innovations like that are why more parents are getting the opportunity to get these precious moments, like Halloween.
"Because of all these new therapies, new pieces of technology, new and different medications, new ways of feeding babies, we have the opportunity to improve, significantly, the morbidity and mortality rates. They are drastically different than 28 years ago when my son was a preemie here in the NICU," she said.
"He has been here for about two months. He has a congenital diaphragmatic hernia. He has to have a lot of care. He had surgery and he's actually repairing, so hopefully we won't be here much longer,” said Jennifer Reddell.
Her son, Brendan, was dressed as a Ninja Turtle. The parents we spoke to say ACH's efforts to give their babies the best care doesn't go unnoticed.
"I like it because she's in a good place and they're going to make sure she's ok,” said Tarreshia Williams.
Her daughter, Calanei Pulliam, came as a complete surprise 10 days ago. Friday, she was dressed as a cheerleader.
In such a stressful environment, these tiny felt costumes, bring a lighthearted moment, and lots of smiles.
"I think that Children's Hospital taking the initiative to offer this to parents and to the babies, just to have a moment when they wouldn't otherwise have one, because the babies aren't doing well, I think is really really sweet and a special moment. It's something we really appreciate,” said Courtney Strickland, as she held her son, Landon Stewart’s costume down to his wiggling torso.