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One mom's mission to make clothes for premature babies has taken off in a big way, and now many others are joining in to help.
Amanda Huhta sews outfits for premature babies and hands them out to parents in the neonatal intensive care unit at her local hospital through her organization Twenty-Five and Four.
Her own experience is her inspiration. Three years ago, Huhta was 25 weeks and four days pregnant when her first son was born. He weighed 1 pound, 12 ounces and spent 110 days in the NICU, she said.
"My husband is a fighter pilot and I had ordered a shirt online that said 'Daddy's Co-Pilot' and had a picture of a fighter jet," Huhta, who lives in Tucson, Arizona, told TODAY. "I remember having that going-home outfit and thinking, there is no way he will fit in this."
“Then I cried, and I called my mom and that's when she made something for us,” she continued.
Today, Huhta’s son is doing amazing, she said, "full of spunk and sass." He often accompanies her to the hospital to hand out the outfits.
“He thinks it’s so great,” she said. “He says, ‘Are you sewing for the sick babies?’ He knows that when we go to the hospital, we’re there to help.”
Huhta and her husband also have another son, who is almost 10 months old.
When it comes to dressing premature babies, size isn’t the only obstacle.
"When (babies) are in the NICU, they're most likely, but not always, going to have some kind of lines attached to them — oxygen or heart rate monitors — and putting on a regular onesie is difficult because you have to detach the lines and put them through the onesie and then put the onesie on the baby, and things can get caught,” Huhta said.
But the outfits her mom made were all one piece and easy to put on and take off.
“You can lay it flat on the baby's bed and it folds over and attaches with Velcro,” she said. “It's like a little vest."
Now Huhta is sewing the outfits herself, but she’s not alone. Inspired by her mission, people across the world have contacted her and asked to help.
Volunteers donate their time and materials, with some sewing outfits and passing them out at their local hospitals. Huhta said she has at least one volunteer in each U.S. state and a handful in countries abroad.
Right now, Twenty-Five and Four is fully funded by donations, but she is in the process of finding a lawyer to help it become a nonprofit.
She estimates that she and the volunteers have passed out at least 200 outfits.
Huhta's goal is to help parents who are going through the same scary situation she once experienced.
“Babies don’t care if they’re wearing clothes,” she said. “You want to go to the hospital and put the clothes on that you picked out for your baby and take him home, crying and happy. But you go to the NICU and your world is turned upside down.
"Having that shirt gives them a little bit of joy, a little bit of hope.”