Baby's First Christmas! Premature Newborns Get Their First Photo with Santa Claus in Texas NICU

A group of premature babies at a Texas hospital got their first photo with Santa Claus — just in time for Christmas!

A group of premature babies recently got their very first photos with Santa Claus when jolly old St. Nick stopped by a Texas hospital’s neonatal intensive care unit.

Santa Claus visited the St. David’s Women’s Center in Austin on Tuesday to bring some holiday cheer to babies and their families at the hospital. An employee dressed up as Santa and made his way around the NICU, visiting nearly 50 babies dressed in tiny, red and white holiday outfits.

“A lot of these babies have long hospital stays and since they have to be here in the hospital we don’t want them to miss out on that experience,” Amy Irons, the hospital’s director of neonatal services, tells PEOPLE.

St. David's Women's Center of Texas

The employee spent all year growing the thick, white beard for the tradition, Irons says. He made his way around the NICU delivering the newborns elf hats and stockings — which read “My First Christmas” — that they could fit into.

Irons says the stockings are “similar to little sleeping bags to them.”

Photos of the sweet visit showed Santa smiling by the beds of several little ones, including one baby who was dressed as Santa too.

St. David's Women's Center of Texas

“He was on his respiratory apparatus,” Irons tells PEOPLE of little Ace. “So the piece that gives him the oxygen he needs, his mom actually glued some cotton balls to make him a Santa beard and then he had a Santa outfit on. It was adorable.”

Mr. Claus even posed with 9-day-old triplet girls.

St. David's Women's Center of Texas

“We placed them all in one little crib so they could all nuzzle with each other and then Santa stood behind them for the photo,” Irons tells PEOPLE. “Mom just was so teary as she walked up and saw her three little premature triplets all together with Santa behind them. It was all precious. The nurse that had those triplets, she made bows out of their elf hats.”

St. David's Women's Center of Texas

Hospital staff look forward to the tradition all year, Irons says, noting that the nurses “love this event and really go all out because this is something that we really look forward to.”

In video footage of the event, one couple posed alongside Santa with the mother cradling her little one. Right after the flash, the baby bursts into tears.

St. David's Women's Center of Texas

“Of course, typical Santa baby picture,” the mother jokes.

Irons adds: “In the NICIU we take care of the entire family, not just the baby. And so really these families become our families. Lots of times, these babies are here for months and months and months … They are like family to us so it’s as touching to the nurses as it is to the families.

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