Hospitals celebrate Christmas cheer with newborns ‘stocking stuffer’ tradition

Dec 22, 2023, 3:31 PM

(photo: Intermountain Health)...

(photo: Intermountain Health)

(photo: Intermountain Health)

RIVERTON — This time of year, Intermountain Health Riverton Hospital sends families home with unique stocking stuffers.  This hospital  has a tradition of putting babies born in December into Christmas stockings.

“So the holidays here at Riverton are really fun. When we opened in 2009, our labor and delivery team came together and wanted to do something special for the families that delivered here at Riverton. So what they did is they decided to create big stockings that we could fit the babies in,” Amber Nielson, nurse manager for mom and baby, said.

(photo: Intermountain Health) (photo: Intermountain Health) (photo: Intermountain Health) (photo: Intermountain Health)

Jeanna Whipple has worked as a registered nurse in labor and delivery for 30 years.

“Oh my goodness childbirth is the best,” she said.

Whipple was there at the opening of the Riverton Hospital when the tradition began.

“So when we first started here our manager came, Tiffany Spencer was her name, she came to us one day and she said, ‘we’re going to sew stockings for everybody born in December,’ and we did,” Whipple said. “…We all came in, we cut them up, everybody took some home and sewed them up. Everybody that was born in December got a stocking and the babies get put down in them when they get taken over (to the mothers) – it’s so cute.”

For the first few years, the nurses volunteered their time and sewed all of the stockings themselves. They tried to get them all ready by the end of November to be prepared for the busy December season.

“I bet we sewed about 150 because I think we expected about 100 births,” Whipple said. “It was really fun too, I was like, ‘This is a really fun tradition.’ We kind of all came in and we were cutting them out together but we would take them home and sew them separately, whoever had a sewing machine.”

Now the stockings are purchased, not sewn by staff, but the stocking tradition carries on.

“So with our increased volumes, of course, it’s really hard to sew stockings every year plus COVID, that kind of but a cramp on everything. And so we now purchase the stockings but we still continue with the tradition,” Nielson said. “We thought it was very important for our families that deliver here during this time of year.”

“So we do like an hour and a half two-hour recovery after the baby is born and then when it’s time to move them over to the mom/baby side, we give them their stocking,” Whipple said.

Riverton isn’t the only hospital with traditions to spread holiday cheer. Other hospitals including Intermountain McKay-Dee Hospital in Ogden and Intermountain Medical Center in Murray offer special Christmas photos in the neonatal ICUs.

(photo: Intermountain Health)

Santa poses for photos holding the preemie babies and those photos are given to parents as a keepsake.

“Having your baby in the neonatal ICU can be difficult for parents any time of year, and it’s especially true during the holidays. The Santa photos are a fun way to make the best of having your baby in the hospital,” Alice Casper, nurse manager of the neonatal ICU at Intermountain Medical Center in Murray, said.

Both Whipple and Nielson lit up when they spokes about the babies and what it meant to those families.

“It really is a nice tradition, Christmas is always such a great time of year anyway and I think the fact that you have  a December baby just makes it extra special,” Whipple said.

“I think every year. We just look forward to it. We know stocking season is coming and it’s fun. We love it,” Nielson said.

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Hospitals celebrate Christmas cheer with newborns ‘stocking stuffer’ tradition