GASTONIA, N.C. -- A group of tiny graduates are being celebrated at a North Carolina hospital as they make the transition into their next phase of life.
The nurses of CaroMont Regional Medical Center's Birthplace, the hospital's birthing and family care center, decided to hold tiny graduation ceremonies for babies leaving the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU).
Newborn babies who need intensive medical attention are usually admitted to the NICU which combines advanced technology and specialized care. According to Stanford Children's Health, most babies admitted to the NICU are premature, have low birth weight or have a medical condition that requires special care.
So when it comes time to leave the NICU, it's a time of celebration. That's exactly why nurse Melissa Jordan and her colleagues decided to hold possibly the cutest graduations of all time.
"It's really easy to bond with families and babies in the NICU because sometimes they're here as long as two months," Jordan said.
Jordan first got the idea from a family who dressed their soon-to-be released NICU baby in a onesie that read, "NICU Grad."
"That kept laying on my heart and I decided to go home and make the event so much more special," Jordan said.
Since January 2017, Jordan has been creating her own tiny graduation caps for the babies out of foam paper, yarn and a paint pen.
"Parents love it, it's a huge accomplishment and marks the final milestone in the NICU," Jordan said. "We gather up all the staff and have a celebration."
Jordan credits Baby Bella Photography for taking the initiative to document the sweet moments for the family.
"Baby Bella came for the first baby and takes pictures free of charge," Jordan said. "Some parents have said they want to compare the photos later with a high school graduation."
Since Jordan began the ritual, 14 babies have graduated including three sets of twins.
Take a look at these adorable graduates: