Infant Onesie Design for Infant Cancer Patients

Haley Wolff, Contributor

From Cancer Care Foundation MN website

In collaboration between the Cancer Care Foundation MN and Professor Lucy Dunne’s technical design studio class, a comfortable garment was created for babies who are undergoing cancer treatment here at Children’s Minnesota. The result of this collaboration is a onesie that features specifically designed and thought-out pockets, making it easier to access treatment ports and improve the comfort of the young cancer patients.

The Cancer Care Foundation was started by Dr. Michael Tulkki, who originally decided to design an athletic medical scrub. He worked with his son, Ethan, on his 6th grade service project and was inspired by a student from the University of Minnesota football team battling cancer while pursuing his collegiInfantate athlete lifestyle and goal. This athlete, gaining national attention at the time for his fight with cancer, battled osteosarcoma 5 times. Michael and Ethan, along with three other of Ethan’s classmates, took on the task and project of designing and producing a medical shirt for patients receiving cancer treatments. Their ultimate goal: create a comfortable, athletic styled shirt that allows for patients and the medical professionals to have easy access to the parts of the body needed for medicine delivery access. What started as a small service project has grown into its own organization. With the help of a grant from the Randy Shaver Cancer Research and Community Fund, hundreds of shorts have been donated to local hospitals. Their process is simple. First, fill out a form, or contact them directly, to construct a design. Second, with the help of their friends here at the University of Minnesota, the clothing will be designed. Lastly, once ready, it will be sent to the patient. Its as easy as that! Donations are never expected, but always appreciated.

Recently, Tulkki has began working with healthcare providers at Children’s Minnesota, among others in the healthcare industry, and has found inspiration for his newest project: a onesie for infant cancer patients.

Taken from College of Design website

This has led to a collaboration with the College of Design’s Apparel Design program here at the University of Minnesota. This program has been offered since around 1968 and involves a combination of theoretical and practical learning aiming to explore the connection between textiles, apparel products, human behavior, and the design process. It is a research-orientated curricula, as demonstrated here, designed to provide students with a solid foundation in the entire textile and clothing development process, starting from design to production and marketing. In it, students have the opportunity to develop and enhance their creative, critical, and technical thinking skills by participating in various projects and portfolio development.

This particular project began back in the 2022 spring semester where apparel students worked closely with healthcare providers at Children’s Minnesota to design two different onesies, one with long sleeves and one with short sleeves, as part of the functional clothing class. The next fall, students in the technical design class picked up where the project was left off. They focused on developing and manufacturing the clothing products. Additionally, they took the designs and created a small run of both the provided designs. Numerous products have been distributed and received positive feedback.

The onesie’s pockets were designed to prevent children from tugging on their cords and tubes, which can cause pain and discomfort. This will benefit, not only the infants themselves, but the parents as they go through the frustrations and pain this process entails.

Overall, this project has the potential to have immediate positive impact on the lives of both the patients, healthcare providers, and the families as comfort and versatility is provided. Linked below is the link to the Cancer Care Foundation website and Children’s Minnesota.


Cancer Care Foundation:

Children’s Minnesota: