NICU nurse creates Halloween costumes for newborns

When Tara Fankhauser sits still, and (spoiler alert!) she's rarely sitting still, her fingers are constantly in motion.

Tara Fankhauser, a NICU nurse at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta, crochets Halloween costumes for the newborns in her care. She begins crocheting the costumes in February and never repeats the same design. Fankhauser says she likes making "magic hap

"I start crocheting with my great grandmother many, many, many moons ago," the Children's Healthcare of Atlanta at Scottish Rite neonatal intensive care unit nurse says. She took a break during her tween years.

"It's not cool in junior high school," Fankhauser says. "So, I put it down for a long, long time. And then, when I moved here and quit smoking, I needed something to do with my hands."

So, she picked up the needles again. 

I get a lot of personal joy out of being the kind of person that makes magic happen for other people."

— Children's Healthcare of Atlanta NICU nurse Tara Fankhauser

And, the past 4 years, the Acworth, Georgia, mother of 3 has been crocheting Halloween costumes for Children's tiniest patients.

There are 35 babies in her NICU, and she's made costumes for almost all of them.

"My best one has been the Dumbo," Fankhauser smiles. "That one turned out really, really well."

Tara Fankhauser, a NICU nurse at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta, crochets Halloween costumes for the newborns in her care. She begins crocheting the costumes in February and never repeats the same design. Fankhauser says she likes making "magic hap

She starts crocheting in February, never repeating the same costume.

"Sometimes, if I've gotten some time with that baby, I'll try to make something that fits that baby's personality," she says.

Often, the costumes are a surprise.

Baby wears Halloween costume.

Parents give their permission for their babies to be dressed and photographed for a Halloween display, not knowing

what Fankhauser is crocheting for their baby.

Children's Healthcare of Atlanta NICU nurse Tara Fankhauser starts crocheting Halloween costumes for babies in February.

This year, one baby is a tiny Rocky Balboa, another Sally from Tim Burton's "The Nightmare Before Christmas."

And Burton has crocheted a Casper the Friendly Ghost costume.

Children's Healthcare of Atlanta NICU nurse Tara Fankhauser crochets costumes for her tiny patients.

One mother made a special request for her newborn, London.

Fankhauser says she wanted "a 1970's roller-skating diva" costume.

Tara Fankhauser, a NICU nurse at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta, crochets Halloween costumes for the newborns in her care. (FOX 5 Atlanta)

"She was, like, 'Can you make her an afro?'" Fankhauser says.  "And I was, like, 'Of course I can make her an afro!'

And, it took all week because I sewed each individual curl and then attached each curl to the hat."

London's mom, she says, loved it.

Children's Healthcare of Atlanta NICU nurse Tara Fankhauser crochets Halloween costumes for her patients.

For Shelby Barton's 4-week old Dottie, born 6 weeks early with gastrointestinal complications, Fankhauser made a Tinkerbell costume.

"When I saw hers, I teared up," Barton says. "I was so happy to see a costume. And see how cute she is and everything.  It was awesome."

"When I saw hers, I teared up.  I was so happy to see a costume. And see how cute she is and everything.

— NICU parent Shelby Barton, on her daughter Dottie's "Tinkerbell" costume

Fankhauser says she loves being able to bring Halloween to her NICU babies and their parents.

"I tell my kids, 'You can be the person who magic happens to, or you can be the person that makes magic happen for other people," 

Children's Healthcare of Atlanta NICU patient dressed as Sally from "The Nightmare Before Christmas."

 she says.  "And, I get a lot of personal joy out of being the kind of person that makes magic happen for other people."

Tara Fankhauser plans to keep the magic coming.

"The point is to participate in life. They've still got to be kids, and they've got to be kids, no matter their circumstances."

— Children's Healthcare of Atlanta NICU nurse Tara Fankhauser, on making costumes for babies

She is already thinking up costume ideas for next Halloween.

Children's Healthcare of Atlanta NICU nurse Tara Fankhauser crochets costumes for her tiny patients.

"I am the Halloween Claus," she says.  "That's me:  #HalloweenClaus.  I'm going to write that down."