A new program at Memorial Hermann Southeast Hospital will allow parents in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit to mark their baby’s milestones in a meaningful way.

The Babies Excelling and Development (BEAD) program was created by Dobie High School senior Sydney Sweet.

Sweet is a member of Girl Scout Troop 8015 and completed the program as part of her Girl Scout Gold Award, which represents the highest achievement in Girl Scouting.

Families who choose to participate in the free program are given a bead to welcome them to the unit. As babies encounter challenges or celebrate milestones, a corresponding bead can be added to their string.

“I think this program will offer a lot of encouragement to parents,” said Julie McCarthy, a child life specialist at Memorial Hermann Southeast. “A baby’s journey through the NICU can often be a rollercoaster. The beads will serve first as a reminder to parents of the challenges their baby faced and the obstacles they overcame and also as a wonderful keepsake to reflect back on their child’s earliest days.”

There are 22 different beads marking accomplishments ranging from taking their first bath to the red heart handed out to a baby when they are discharged from the unit.

Sweet has a personal connection to the project because she started her life as a graduate from the unit, she said.

“There were no programs like this when I was a baby,” Sweet said. “This will give families a quick reference diary of their baby’s experiences and accomplishments that chronicles their first journey in life.”

Sweet worked with her church, New Life Lutheran Church in Pearland, to provide the unit at Memorial Hermann Southeast with enough supplies for the year.

Memorial Hermann Southeast has services capable of caring for the smallest and sickest of newborn babies.

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