Hand to Hold® launches national NICU Graduate Then & Now Photo Contest to kick off graduation season

May 2, 2023

With the launch of this annual NICU Grad Then & Now Photo Contest, Hand to Hold® and presenting sponsor Huggies® have created a new tradition to celebrate this special NICU milestone.

hand to hold nicu graduate then and now photo contest

AUSTIN – Hand to Hold, a national nonprofit that provides early intervention mental health support for Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) parents before, during and after the NICU has announced its inaugural 2023 NICU Grad Then & Now Photo Contest. The contest opens at 9:00 a.m. (CST) on May 2, 2023 and closes on May 14, 2023 at 10:00 p.m. (CST). The contest is free to enter and open to all NICU graduates who were discharged from 2005-2023.

One in seven babies are admitted to the NICU each year in the US1. Some stay for a few days for monitoring, while others may stay for many months as they overcome challenges associated with prematurity, low birth weight, birth defects or major medical issues such as heart defects. “NICU Graduation” is an emotional and celebratory milestone for families regardless of the duration of their stay. When a baby is born early or with special healthcare concerns, milestones have a very different meaning.

With the launch of this annual NICU Grad Then & Now Photo Contest, Hand to Hold® and presenting sponsor Huggies® have created a new tradition to celebrate this special NICU milestone. Huggies® has been a sponsor of Hand to Hold since 2016 and their sponsorship has been instrumental in helping to remove barriers for thousands of NICU families each year to access Hand to Hold’s free mental health support.

“Our new national celebration was created to unite NICU families while raising funds to ensure our support services remain free to all NICU and bereaved families,” said Kelli Kelley, Hand to Hold’s Founder and CEO. “While this photo contest is designed to celebrate NICU graduates, we acknowledge and remember the babies that were unable to overcome the challenges they faced at birth. Their stories inspire us daily and underscore the need to celebrate NICU grads for all they have overcome and accomplished.”

Enter & vote today!


  • NICU Graduates who were discharged from 2005-2023.
  • Open to U.S. residents.
  • Entry Categories (the year the child graduated from the NICU):
    • Class of ‘23-’22: Huggies® Little Snugglers ®
    • Class of ‘21-‘20: Huggies® Little Movers ®
    • Class of ‘19 -’18: Pre-K Kids
    • Class of ‘17-’12: Elementary
    • Class of ‘11-’09: Middle School
    • Class of ‘08-’05: High School


  • 100% of proceeds directly support NICU families through Hand to Hold® a 501(c)(3) non-profit.
  • All votes are tax-deductible.
  • Donate to vote. Votes are $1 each and are unlimited.
  • Win great prizes! Your child could be featured on the cover of our 2024 NICU Grad Then & Now calendars, win gifts to support your NICU team and much more!

Learn more about prizing

About Hand to Hold®:

Hand to Hold® is a national nonprofit 501(c)(3) that is dedicated to providing personalized emotional support, education and community to parents who have had children in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) or the loss of a baby.  Hand to Hold is removing barriers for support by growing a hybrid model of in-person and virtual support in service to their mission. Support is provided in English or Spanish to parents at no cost to families and all support is designed with the emotional, physical and social needs of the NICU parent.  For more information, visit HandtoHold.org.

About Huggies® Brand

For more than 40 years, Huggies® has been helping parents provide love, care and reassurance to their babies. From developing innovative, everyday products for babies to partnering with NICU nurses to develop a special diaper and wipes line for the most fragile babies, Huggies® is dedicated to helping ensure all babies get the care they need to thrive. Huggies® is proud to be the founding sponsor of the National Diaper Bank Network, a nationwide nonprofit dedicated to eliminating diaper need in America since 2011. Huggies® is also the national sponsor of nonprofit Hand to Hold, which provides personalized support before, during and after NICU stays and infant loss.  For more information on product offerings or our community efforts, please visit Huggies.com.


1 Source: National Perinatal Information System/Quality Analytic Services; www.npci.org. Prepared by March of Dimes Perinatal Data Center, 2011.