Dr. John Baer

June 28, 2021
Dr. John Baer pauses after rounding on patients at UCHealth Memorial Hospital North. Photo by Tom Hutton, UCHealth.

Handmade hats welcome newborns to Colorado

When a baby enters the world at UCHealth Memorial Hospital North, obstetrician Dr. John Baer wants to make sure everyone knows this is a Colorado-born child.

As parents snuggle with their newborns and just before pictures are shared with loved ones, Baer affixes a tiny, hand-made blue, red and white cap emblazoned with a “C.” The Colorado flag-inspired hat ensures the babies are warm. It also screams Colorado.

Rachael Blea, a UCHealth physician assistant, cradles her two-day-old son, Lincoln, who is wearing a cap made by Carol Baer. Photo by Tom Hutton, UCHealth.

“A lot of my patients aren’t from Colorado – well, it seems hardly anyone is – and they may be moving away relatively soon,” Baer said, noting that many of his patients have ties to the military. “Even if they go on to have large families, this might be the only child born here. It’s important to preserve the moment.”

The caps are the epitome of personal, presented at the end of the most personal of experiences. They’re made by Baer’s wife Carol who crochets each as a gift from one Colorado family to another. So far, Carol Baer has made 1,000 hats since beginning the tradition three years ago as a replacement for the t-shirts John Baer used to give away to his patients.

“She gets all the credit,” John Baer said. “This was her (Carol’s) idea. But I will tell you, people love them.”

Lincoln Blea, two-day-old infant son of Rachael and Zach Blea, naps while wearing a hat made by Carol Baer. Photo by Tom Hutton, UCHealth.

Looking through a three-ring binder filled with details about his patients and their births, Baer marvels at the families he’s helped shape. Since beginning his practice in 1998, he’s changed binders several times. The biggest binder he’s able to find – more than four inches thick – holds notes about 8,400 patients and their children. As he flips pages, he pauses when he sees names repeated as families grew. Those are his favorites.

Family and place are important to Baer. He and Carol have three children of their own and have been married more than 30 years. Most would consider him a Colorado native – he was raised in Loveland and attended Colorado State University and the University of Colorado School of Medicine.

But, technically, he’s not.

“My mom made sure that all her children were born in Ohio,” Baer said. “I was born in Van Wert but she brought me home to Colorado as fast as she could.”

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About the author

Tom Hutton is a veteran communications professional who enjoys making complex subjects relatable to people from all walks of life. Prior to joining UCHealth in 2019, he taught and led public communications at the University of Colorado Colorado Springs. Previously, he led communications at the University of Kansas and was a reporter and manager for newspapers in Kansas, Iowa and California. In these roles, he earned recognition from the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education, the University of Colorado and various press associations.

Tom earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from KU and a master’s degree in public administration from CU. He enjoys college sports, vintage cars, cooking Kansas City-style barbeques, skiing and hiking.

He and his wife Julie have two daughters and a son.