Zero to Three

Jada, Photo Courtesy Alter Family

Photo credit: Alter Family

Hand to Hold recommends the resources created by Zero to Three, a national nonprofit organization that informs, trains and supports professionals, policymakers and parents in their efforts to improve the lives of infants and toddlers. Founded in 1977 by top experts in child development, their mission is to ensure that all infants and babies have a strong start in life.  They do this by providing the knowledge and tools to parents, health care professional and lawmakers needed to support early development.

Since their start, this organization has evolved into one that plays a critical leadership role in promoting understanding around key issues affecting young children and their families.  These issues include childcare, infant mental health, early language and literacy development, early intervention and the impact of culture on early childhood development.

Zero to Three promotes a multidisciplinary approach to child development. Their emphasis is on bringing together the perspectives of many fields and specialists and then rooting those perspectives in robust research.  These studies show that all domains of development—social, emotional, intellectual, language and physical—are interdependent and work together to promote a child’s overall health and well-being in the context of his family and culture.

All of their work is:

  • Grounded in research and experience
  • Multidisciplinary
  • Collaborative
  • Accessible
  • Culturally responsive
  • Clinically informed

Zero to ThreeZero to Three offers a wide variety of resources, from an online bookstore and catalog to online references.  Their popular 12-series podcast, Little Kids, Big Questions,  addresses some of the most common (and challenging) issues facing parents of babies and toddlers, such as: helping a baby learn to sleep through the night, dealing with a picky eater, and learning to set limits on children’s behavior.

Their resources are organized by topic, including:

  • behavior and development, which covers topics such as play, brain development, early language, school readiness, grandparents, mental health assessment and treatment, sleep, temperament and more.
  • maltreatment, which describes the impact of trauma and ways to keep children safe.
  • early care and education, which details how to find quality care from a child care center or other caring adults. This section also offers a free web-based, interactive learning tool designed to help parents and caregivers support their young children’s early learning. Age-based information covers the four key skills—language and literacy skills, thinking skills, self-confidence and self-control that are helpful for school success.
  • public policy, shows a variety of ways to advocate on behalf of initiatives supporting the care, development and education of young children.

Here’s an alternate link to the video about Zero to Three.

Connect with  Zero to Three online or through their Facebook page to stay informed about the many helpful resources and initiatives they are working on to benefit our nation’s youngest children.

Postpartum Progress

Postpartum ProgressMothers who have had a difficult pregnancy, traumatic birth, a baby in the NICU or a loss experience know firsthand the complex “roller coaster” of emotions, anxiety, stress, trauma and grief. While these are natural response to extraordinary circumstances, it is all too common for some mothers to suffer from lingering mental health issues postpartum. As May is “Maternal Mental Health” month, we are pleased to feature nonprofit support organization Postpartum Progress® that is doing so much to raise awareness of postpartum mental health and the support that is available to all mothers.

Postpartum Progress® is the world’s most widely-read blog on postpartum depression and all other mental illnesses related to pregnancy and childbirth, including:

  • postpartum anxiety,
  • postpartum OCD,
  • depression during pregnancy (antenatal depression),
  • post-adoption depression,
  • postpartum PTSD,
  • depression after miscarriage or perinatal loss and
  • postpartum psychosis.

Postpartum Progress® focuses on positive messages of empowerment and recovery, because they believe PPD and other disorders are temporary and treatable with professional help.

Katherine Stone

Katherine Stone

Postpartum Progress® was founded in 2004 by Katherine Stone after a devastating bout of postpartum depression following the birth of her first child. Katherine Stone is now a nationally-recognized advocate for woman and her award-winning blog consistently ranks as one of the top sites for information and support for woman on the subjects of depression and pregnancy/childbirth. The site offers original articles written by Katherine Stone and her expert contributors, guidance on the symptoms of depression and anxiety during pregnancy and after childbirth, how to get help, support from other mothers and daily hope and inspiration for mothers who are trying to navigate through the daily challenges of postpartum depression and anxiety.

Hand to Hold asked Katherine Stone what she felt was the importance of highlighting maternal mental health:

She shares, “I’m so grateful people are recognizing the importance of the emotional health of new mothers in May via Maternal Mental Health Month. I’m hoping it really catches on, because a mom’s mental health is crucial for the health and future success of her new family. The more we talk about this, the more new mother’s will know if they need help and where to get it.”

On Mobile, view her video “One Thing You Should Know About Post Partum Depression

Sibling Support Project

Sibshop_LogoHand to Hold believes that the birth of a premature baby or a baby with special health care needs affects the lives of all family members. Like parents, siblings need support, encouragement and information to navigate through some of life’s most challenging circumstances. In celebration of National Sibling Day we’re featuring the Sibling Support Project and the incredible work they do!

The Seattle-based Sibling Support Project is dedicated to giving a voice to the life-long concerns of brothers and sisters of siblings with special healthcare and developmental needs. The mission of  the Sibling Support Project is to provide peer support as well as information. Their goal is to give opportunities for brothers and sisters of people with special needs to talk about their relationship with their sibling in a supportive environment and to increase parents’ and providers’ understanding of sibling issues.

They do this by…

  • training local service providers on how to create community-based peer support programs for young siblings,
  • hosting workshops, social network sites, and websites for young and adult siblings, and
  • increasing parents’ and providers’ awareness of siblings’ unique, lifelong, and ever-changing concerns through workshops and online and published materials.

Their most successful program is called SibShops. Created by Don Meyer, the SibShop curriculum can be used by any agency that serves families of children with special needs. Providers can be trained to host their own SibShop to support the families in their community. SibShops are best described as “special events” that are facilitated by a team of service providers (such as social workers, special education teachers and professors, psychologists, nurses, and families) and adult siblings of people with special needs. By recognizing the importance of the sibling relationship, SibShops celebrate the unique bond, both rewarding and challenging, that siblings in these families share.

♥ Read What Siblings Would Like Parents and Service Providers to Know and watch this video courtesy of Sibling Support Project and The Arc of King County in Seattle.


Laura Romero, Family Support Navigator and Sibling Support Specialist for Hand to Hold, is a certified SibShop facilitor and a strong supporter of the program.

“SibShops utilize games and active play to create a safe environment where siblings of children with special needs can come together to see that they are not alone in what they are experiencing – the joys and challenges – with their brothers and sisters.”

Laura notes that while SibShops are not meant to be counseling sessions, the role of the experienced staff is to recognize if a sibling is in need of more specialized help and support parents as they navigate this special and unique relationship.

“Often times, siblings are afraid to tell their parents what they are feeling because they don’t want to upset them or be a burden. Having a sibling with special needs takes a lot of energy and time from the parents and often the other siblings feel left behind. SibShops gives the kids a safe place to express themselves.”

The relationship between siblings is often the longest, most important relationship a child will have and should be recognized and nurtured. When one of the siblings has special needs, it can change the dynamic of that relationship in many ways. Laura strongly supports SibShops.

“As a member of Hand to Hold and a parent of a child with special needs, I understand the support that parents need to deal with the family that they are raising. However, the same is true for siblings. SibShops acknowledges these brothers and sisters and not only allows them to talk about the challenges of having a sibling with special needs, but also to celebrate the wonderful, positive things that come with it as well.” Read Laura’s story: For the Love of Cameron


 Find out more about what Hand to Hold is doing to provide support for siblings, including hosting special activities like Sibling Sundaes in the NICU.

For more information on the Sibling Support Project, to join one of their many online networking communities, to see if there is a SibShop near you or for information on how to start a SibShop in your own city, please visit The Sibling Project is a program of Seattle-based Kindering Center, a nonprofit neurodevelopmental clinic that provides comprehensive services, crucial therapies, special education, and counseling for over 2,000 infants and children with special needs each year.



Neotech EmployeesNeotech is a leading manufacturer of neonatal, pediatric and respiratory products. Founded in 1986 by a physician and two biomedical engineers, Neotech began with the distribution of one product – a meconium aspirator. They quickly expanded their offerings and now have an extensive catalog of products not only for use in hospitals, but also for use at home. All of their products are latex, phthalate/DEHP and BPA free. They are also the first company to use NeoBondTM Hydrocolloid as the adhesive on all of their neonatal products, which is much gentler on a baby’s skin.

Neotech’s most popular product is called the “Little Sucker,” an oral-nasal suctioning device used for gentle suctioning. Marty Barnes, mother to Casey who was born at 37 weeks due to a uterine rupture that resulted in several physical and medical complications, says, “We would be LOST without the Little Sucker.  It is so much softer than any other suction tool available.”

Casey's First Grade Photo

Photo credit: Barnes Family

And she would know – among the many challenges they face with Casey’s conditions, Casey is missing many of her natural reflexes and she is unable to suck, swallow, gag or blink. Without the ability to swallow, Casey’s air way is at constant risk. Suction equipment is needed to remove secretions, and anything else in her mouth/throat, in order for her to breath.  “The Little Sucker is significantly softer than any other product therefore we are not harming our daughter’s airway by using it frequently. We have tried other products that cause bleeding and sores. Bleeding creates additional complications with aspirations. The Neotech products have enabled us to care for our daughter with fewer hospital visits.” Read more about Casey’s story.

It is stories like Casey’s that motivates Neotech to continue to strive for complete customer satisfaction. Neotech does not make products to make money; they make products that are truly going to make a difference in the lives of the families who use them. Judy McCrary, Home Healthcare Specialist at Neotech and director of the new Home Health Division, states, “We want to help the parents, let them know they have a voice and that there isn’t anything we won’t do to help improve how they care for their children. Neotech solely makes products to care for premature babies in the NICU and, now, at home as well.”

Neotech - 25 Years Making a Difference LogoIn 2011, Neotech launched their Home Health Division, which allows parents to obtain the products they need to care for their children once they are released from the NICU. Because of the Home Health Division, these products can now be covered by insurance. Ms. McCrary encourages parents to go to the Neotech websites and request free samples of their products and a catalog. “Our products are created and designed directly from the feedback we get from the nurses, parents and respiratory therapists who use them, so we take great pride in the quality and usability of our products. So much so that we encourage you to request free samples until you find the right products for you and your child.”

Neotech’s products are made in the USA, are offered in all 50 states and in about 50 foreign countries. To learn more about Neotech, or to request samples of their products, please visit or or follow them on Facebook.

Enjoy this video about Neotech!

Busy Breathers LLC

Michelle Staley & her son, photo courtesy Busy Breathers LLC

Michelle Staley & her son, photo courtesy Busy Breathers LLC

The Busy Breather Oxygen Carrying Backpack provides a convenient and smart way for parents with children who are on oxygen to carry all of their supplies in one easy, organized system.  The Busy Breather Backpack takes the frustration out of packing multiple bags for bottles, wallets, keys, diapers, and life-depending oxygen by consolidating everything into one bag.  And because it is a backpack, it allows you to be hands-free for your baby.

Michelle Staley, founder and CEO of Busy Breathers, states, “With necessity being the mother of invention, I used my own experience to come up with the solution that millions of oxygen-users are looking for every year: a convenient and attractive solution to carrying the very thing upon which they depend on to stay alive: oxygen.”

Michelle founded Busy Breathers in 2006 following the premature birth of her son.  After spending four months in the NICU, her son was released from the hospital but would require oxygen 24 hours a day the following two years.  Being a busy mother on-the-go, Michelle used her degree in fashion design to create a more sensible and organized way to get around with all the supplies and equipment she needed to carry for herself and her son.

Busy Breather Video on Vimeo.

Busy Breathers LogoMichelle Staley and her Baby Breathers products have received local and national recognition.  Michelle was awarded a grant from Huggies® Brand diapers through the new Huggies® Mom Inspired™ Grant Program and was recognized by Contemporary Pediatrics Magazine as Best New Tech Product.  Michelle has been featured on several radio and television stations as well as websites such as Healthy Living at Home, and

The Busy Breathers Backpack is offered at over 70 Walgreens in Denver, Colorado and available to everyone online at and  Visit the official website at and connect with them on Facebook to learn more and to search the many products now offered, in different styles, to accommodate the different needs of oxygen users, from infants to adults.