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Santa visits NICU babies at Helen DeVos Children's Hospital

“This is the best Christmas present ever.”
Credit: Spectrum Health Beat – Chris Clark
Santa cuddles triplets Theo, Zara and Malia Thomas at the NICU in Helen DeVos Children's Hospital on Monday, Dec. 23.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Monday, Santa Claus made a special visit to newborn babies who are spending the holidays in the neonatal center at Helen DeVos Children's Hospital. 

The tiny babies got photos with Santa, who was played by retired neonatologist Craig Kinney. Alexis Carter-Cook said she wanted a picture of her daughter with Santa. The baby girl was due in February, but she arrived early on Dec. 2. 

Santa cuddled the 3-pound, 11-ounce baby expertly working around the tubes and monitors. 

“This is the best Christmas present ever,” said Carter-Cook. 

This jolly Santa was also aware of the sleeping babies, and he quietly said "Ho, ho, ho, merry Christmas" as he entered each room. 

The NICU babies were dressed in festive attire: fluffy bows, green bibs, red hats and reindeer outfits. Spectrum Health said one baby girl was tucked into a stocking and a little boy wore suspenders and a bow tie. 

"As expected, the infants melted the hearts of Santa and the staff members who helped arrange the photos," a news release said. 

The tiniest of babies stayed in their cribs, but Santa leaned in for a photo. 

Jordan and Koddy Skutt's twins wore matching elf hats that said "My First Christmas." Nurses tucked Bennett and Dawson into each of Santa's arms. 

“They’re beautiful,” Santa said.

But, he didn't stop with twins. Santa also spread holiday cheer to 2-day-old triplets: Theo in his left arm, Malia in his right arm and Zara right in the middle. 

“The best Christmas present ever,” the triplets' father Danny Thomas said. 

Santa's visit brought joy to the NICU, where parents and nurses are nurturing the babies. Mother Vanessa Hartley said with their 2-week-old son Hugh, they haven't been able to think much about the holidays. 

"This is really nice,” she said. “I’ve been telling him all week you better be ready for Santa.” 

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