Bauxite, AR (October 18, 2022) – A baby’s first Halloween costume is often an exciting and adorable rite of passage for new parents. Families with babies in neonatal intensive care units, or NICUs, they might not normally have the chance to celebrate. These times can be deeply painful and exhausting for parents, no matter the season, but this year they may have a little Halloween treat.
To lift the spirits of hardworking staff and worried parents, Sardis United Methodist Church has taken on costuming the NICU babies at Baptist Medical Center in Little Rock that treats patients across the state. Last year, when Cheryl Kindervater saw photos of the Baptist NICU babies dressed up as little ghosts or ballerinas, her heart melted.
She heard from her friend, a NICU nurse at the hospital, that the average number of hospitalized infants who are preterm or have health conditions is around 50 at any time. The costumes were a task formerly performed by already busy nurses, and Kindervater took this opportunity to lift a weight from their shoulders. “Everybody in healthcare is stretched to the limit,” said Kindervater, a member of Sardis UMC and leader of the costume ministry.
Last month she rallied her congregation to help create a total of 53 costumes to send to the hospital in time for the holiday. The entire youth group even spent an evening cutting felt, gluing pom poms, and fashioning tiny pirate eye patches. Many babies in the NICU are intubated or attached to several monitors at once, posing a challenge for any clothing. The idea with these costumes is that they are made in one layer of soft, non-irritating material to lay over the top of the baby, leaving their lifesaving interventions undisturbed. “It’s just to give the parents a sense of normalcy and put a smile on their faces,” Kindervater said. This Halloween, even the tiniest trick-or-treaters and their sweet families won’t miss out on the fun. Sardis UMC hopes to continue this tradition for years to come.
*STORY UPDATE: Tiny Princess
On October 25, Karen Guinn, Sardis UMC administrator and a member of the baby Halloween costume ministry team, saw on her Facebook page a photo of a baby in a princess costume from the Baptist NICU in Little Rock. The mom who posted the photo of her daughter shared her gratitude for this sweet costume and that it “made her day so bright after 80 long days in the unit.” She had no idea that it had been made by the hands of people from the church that her father attends, that has also been praying for Mom and baby for months.
“God knew the perfect little princess that needed this costume. I love how God orchestrated this so perfectly,” shared Guinn.
Sardis United Methodist Church is located in Southeast Saline County in Arkansas and is considered part of the Little Rock metropolitan statistical area.
Rev. Greg Burks is the senior pastor.