Parent of Hospitalized Babies
Other Awards and Accolades

FAQ - Frequently Asked Questions

Questions / answers in this section are only opinions or guidelines and should not be taken as medical advice. Nurses should consider the condition and size of home patient when making decisions regarding use of the Zaky.

1. Who developed the Zaky?

The Zaky was invented by Yamile Jackson to save her own son, Zachary, in 2001.

We have always privileged the safety, sound development and stability of the baby, the natural desire of the parents to heal and nurture their newborn, and the need of professionals to provide the best care in each stage and area of developmental care to multiple babies simultaneously.

Behind every product there is a multidisciplinary team of professionals and families led by Yamile Jackson, (PhD in ergonomics engineering) supporting the success from product conception to implementation. Each product development project has a duration of around three years before the product is released to market.

The dedication of Dr. Jackson and the team to each stage of design and development has positioned us as pioneers in the creation of devices where the human factor is the most relevant differentiator.

We are working with several institutions in developing ergonomic solutions that meet their individual needs.

Contact us if you have identified an area in need for improvement, or need or have an idea for a new product that would solve a problem. We can provide assistance in all or any step from product or process improvement conception to manufacturing and marketing.


2. How long has the Zaky been used in hospitals?

The Zaky has been used in NICUs in the US since 2001 including the initial 3 years of research, development, and testing to make it the safest and most effective, versatile, and multi-function tool to help babies mature and develop.

Over 300 hospitals globally use the Zakys, and many of them provide them as the standard of developmental care.

3. Does Nurtured by Design provide support on teaching the nurses/mothers how to use the Zaky?

Yes, we provide help online for NICU staff and parents, in print, and in person. We also visit hospitals and talk to nurses, mothers, and other health professionals. Contact us with any requests, comments, or questions.

4. What clinical evidence is available about The Zaky?

The Zaky was under 3 years of research and development (2001-2004) before releasing it to the market. It is the only device made with ergonomic principles and the only in the market that has clinical evidence of its benefits.


Recently, Georgia College funded a research entitled: "Effect of a maternal simulated intervention [The Zaky] on Physiologic and Developmental Behaviors of 28-34 Week Gestation Infants in a Level III Neonatal Intensive Care Unit"


Kendra Russell, PhD, RN , School of Nursing, Georgia College, Milledgeville, GA
Barbara Weaver, RN , NICU, Medical Center of Central Georgia, Macon, GA
Robert Vogel, Professor of Biostatistics, Jiann-Ping Hsu College of public Health, Georgia Southern University, Statesboro, GA


In Washington DC, on November 2nd, 2011, this independent clinical research project about the Zaky [maternal simulated intervention] was presented at the American Public Health Association's (APHA) Annual Meeting and will be presented at the National Association of Neonatal Nurses (NANN) in 2012. Click here to see the poster presentation

5. If my hospital does not provide the evidence-based device for developmental care called The Zaky, where can families purchase them?

Visit our OBOZ Program to learn more about it.


The Zaky and Kangaroo Zak are standard devices in many hospitals that practice evidence-based developmental care. If they don’t, parents can:
Request the nurse to purchase the Developmental Kit (2 Zakys and One Kangaroo Zak) and charge it to the baby’s medical account under “discretionary items”.
Purchase them in our online store.  

Families of hospitalized babies receive a Zaky as a gift on behalf of Zachary with the purchase of the Developmental Kit or another Zaky. Follow these instructions to receive the gift:
Click here to find the hospital/gift code.  Contact if your hospital is not listed. 
Go to our online store and place 2 Zakys or a Developmental Kit in the shopping cart.
Use the Hospital/Gift code when asked for a coupon code at checkout.

6. What hospital units use the Zaky?

Originally it was used only in NICUs, however, the use of the Zaky has expanded to other units: Intensive Care Units (Neonatal, Pediatric), Labor and Delivery, in recovery rooms, transporting babies, cancer centers, burn units, etc, with healthy newborn babies, children, and adults. It is also used successfully when giving infant massages and for babies that must be away from the parents for some time.

7. Patients of what size can use the Zaky?

The Zakys were designed to help babies of any size or medical condition.


Anyone that can touch a blanket may use the Zaky. From micro-preemies to adults, from very ill to healthy people, in hospitals, at home, at child care facilities, in car seats, etc.

The weight of the hand is determined by the amount of filling, so it can be from empty (for micro-preemies) to fully filled (for babies 5lb and up).

8. Isn't the Zaky too heavy for micro-preemies?

The weight of the hand is determined by the amount of filling, so it can be from empty (for micro-preemies) to fully filled (for babies 5lb and up). In addition, the filling may be displaced to the sides of the Zaky leaving only the fabric of the middle of the Zaky on top of the baby. Cilck here for a video

The Zakys are also used for nesting, and provide containment and boundaries.


9. How can we get the Zakys for the hospital and who usually pays for them?

We offer quantity discounts for hospitals, just contact us for more information.


About who pays for our products, some hospitals use grants, donations, or the developmental budget. For example, some hospitals have received grants from the March of Dimes to purchase our products.

Our products may be a chargeable item to the patient under "discretionary items".

The Perfect Bundle (2 Zakys and a Kangaroo Zak) also a good idea for mothers/families that want to donate something on behalf/memory of their babies as a 'thank you" gift to the Unit.


Families of hospitalized babies that purchase our products receive a Zaky as a gift on behalf of Zachary with the purchase of the Developmental Kit or another Zaky. Follow these instructions to receive the gift:
Click here to find the hospital/gift code.  Contact if your hospital is not listed. 
Go to our online store and place 2 Zakys or a Developmental Kit in the shopping cart.
Use the Hospital/Gift code when asked for a coupon code at checkout.

10. Is best one or a pair of Zakys?

Rule of thumb, children that need comfort, support AND aid with positioning 2 Zakys work best:

  • Babies weighing less than 15 pounds or those that do not have the ability to comfort or position themselves
  • Can use them front/back, top/bottom, on either side of the car seat
  • The baby is never without one while the other is being washed or scented
  • When the child is away from both parents at the same time, one can be scented by mom, one by dad
  • Premature or ill babies, or those recuperating from a medical procedure, etc.
  • One can go with the baby, the other stays with the parent (when the parent cannot visit the baby they can “swap” Zakys after scenting them)
  • For End-Of-Life Palliative Care
For children that only need comfort, those that can position themselves, disabled children, those that are away from only one parent at a time, and adults, only one Zaky works really well.
11. Do hospitals allow parents to bring Zakys to the Unit?

Absolutely, especially if they strive to practice evidence-based developmental care.

The Zaky has been approved by the Infection Control departments of all the 300 hospitals where it is used, and they prefer having a couple of Zakys instead of all the other items that families usually bring. As one father said: "stuffed animals and other items are to decorate and to make the parents feel better, the Zaky is the only item on the bed that actually helps the baby and our bonding with him"

12. Who washes the Zakys in the hospitals? Do hospitals allow mothers to wash/scent the Zaky at home?

The rules and procedures that apply to blankets, clothes, etc may be also applied to the Zakys.  It is designed to be fully washable without disassembly in machines, including industrial ones.  Must be washed inside the washing bag that is provided with each Zaky.
Hospitals use one or more of the following options:

  • Some encourage the mothers to wash the Zakys at home. Ideally, mothers take the Zaky home and wash it with the baby’s clothes and blanket with a soft soap so the baby starts smelling what he/she will smell at home.   The washing bags are included with the Zakys
  • In some hospitals volunteers or nurses are glad to wash them at the washers at the Unit or even at home.
  • Other hospitals wash them with the other items in the unit (blankets, t-shirts, baby nests, etc).
13. How often are they washed?

The Zakys in the NICU may be left on the infant and changed with infant bathing, isolette change or when soiled.

14. Can the Zaky be recycled?

Yes, but we do not recommend it.  The Zaky was designed to be a personal item that the baby will get used to (scent, weight, feel, etc) and that will help with the transition from the hospital to the house.  To facilitate this, the Zaky has a place on the label for the name of the baby.  A permanent marker can also be used to write the name of the baby across the washing bag to ensure that the Zakys go to the owner.

15. How do parents Scent the Zakys?

Babies are calmer when they feel mom around, and we also introduce the scent of dad as soon as possible.

Being able to incorporate the paren'ts scent in the Zaky is an important feature as it not only helps the baby but also the family members by getting more involved with the care of the baby and feeling that they are doing something for her/his wellbeing.
Here are some suggestions from different hospitals:

  • If moms may wash the Zaky at home she can place it on the chest (like Kangaroo care) for a night or behind the neck for a couple of hours. Some hospitals do not allow the mother to wash and/or scent it at home so she can scent it while visiting the baby in the Unit.
  • They can scent it by placing it behind the neck while they hold their baby on skin-to-skin.
  • Many babies use the Zaky unscented because mom is not available and it is still very effective.
16. Can the Zaky be warmed in the hospital and can it be used under a heating source (incubator/heater)?

Yes. To warm it for the patient, the Zaky may be placed in the towel warmer or in the drier for a couple of minutes.  It may be used directly in the skin of the baby if the baby can touch a blanket.  The Zaky is breathable and does not make the baby perspire where is in contact with the skin.  It may be used in incubator and heaters, with patients of any size.   By design and for safety, the filling will not get warm/hot under a heating source - only the fabric will get warm, similar to a regular blanket.

17. Does the Zaky help those patients that are not visited by their family members?

Yes!  All babies benefit from the boundaries, the soothing touch, sense of protection, and the comfort of the Zaky, even if the mother cannot scent it. 

Unfortunately, and for different reasons, some of the patient’s family members cannot/would not visit the babies during hospitalization.  These babies are more likely to associate touch with pain because when they are touched is mostly to do a medical procedure and they are not held or touched by their loved ones in a nurturing way.  The Zaky is very important for these babies as it provides the touch, boundaries, and a sense of security that otherwise they do not receive.  It also assists the nurses in providing that nurturing touch that they cannot provide all the babies all the time 

18. Can the Zaky help a mother that is too sick or cannot visit her baby?

Yes.  Mothers that are too ill or cannot visit their babies may “swap” Zakys with the baby:  She scents the Zakys for the baby on her chest and she uses a Zaky that has been used by her baby for a couple of hours.  This helps both mother and baby feel closer to each other and get calmer.

19. Should the Zaky be placed on top of the patient, or does it restrict his/her movement?

As a matter of fact, the preferred use of the nurses and mothers is on top of the baby providing containment and a sense of security to the baby without interfering with medical devices.  The babies feel the boundaries and remain calm even when they move.  This allows the development of the muscles and joints and they do not associate movement with anxiety, since they do not have to wait for someone to re-position him/her if they move.

The nurse or health professional must determine how much weight to place on top considering the size and medical condition of each baby.  The weight of the Zaky can be selected by shifting the filling to the hand, and the arm serves as an anchor that provides stability to the hand. Cilck here for a video

20. Do hospitals send the Zakys home with the patient?

Yes.  The Zaky was designed to be a transitional item.  For instance, the lighting, scent, noise, temperature, etc are different every time the baby is moved from Level 3 to Level 2, to different medical procedures such as X-rays, surgeries, during transport, to the car, to the house, to the baby sitter, to grandmother’s house, etc. 

Hospitals send the Zakys home after training the parents (just as they train them about using the oxygen, etc) to remove the Zakys once the baby falls asleep. The Zakys help with positioning, containment, boundaries, etc., at home just as they helped at the NICU. Developmental care does not stop at discharge. Parents must be taught how to use the Zakys to provide developmental care.

21. What do we do if we do not allow mothers to take the Zakys home but she wants to keep the ones that her baby has been using?

Some hospitals allow the mother to buy new Zakys and bring them to the unit to replace the ones her baby has been using.

22. Is the Zaky safe and adequate to use in car seats/bouncy seats/swings?

Yes. Interior car restraint experts (car seats/seat belts/airbags) have reviewed the Zaky and they agree that it provides more than adequate and safe support to babies that are too small for the infant seats.

Place the Zakys one or both sides (depending on the size of the baby) from the shoulders to the legs. The Zakys are far better than rolled towels as these can unroll and they do not protect the baby’s spine and posture.  Towels and blankets only fill the space but do not provide support.  It is also important that the baby feels something familiar as all the environment he/she knows changes inside the car.

23. Is it better to use one or a pair of Zakys per child?


24. Is there a difference between the right and left hand Zaky?

There is no difference for the baby, but helps the caregiver learn how to use them.  We offer right and left hands because it looks more natural and the fingers may be interlocked easier.

25. Does the Zaky help if the baby dies?

Yes. Even when a baby dies, the Zakys help on making the parent feel closer to the baby. Most parents request to keep the Zakys that the baby was using. Many have buried the baby with the Zaky to symbolize that a part of them will always be with the baby. Either way, they provide much needed comfort to the family.

26. Could I talk to health professionals about their experience with the Zaky?

Yes! Just contact us and let us know what you need. We will get you in contact with a colleague of yours with experience with the Zaky.

27. What other products can be used with the Zakys?

Nurtured by Design also provides the Kangaroo Zak. It is arguably the best way to practice Kangaroo Care.

Parents hold their baby as much as possible with the Kangaroo Zak, and at all other times the baby stays with the Zakys. That way the baby has proper developmental care around the clock.

28. How do I get more information about the Zaky?

If you don’t find the information in the website, or you want to talk to us, you may contact us at any time online, by phone, fax, or mail.

29. How long will the scent last once I wear it?

The scent will last until the next wash.  If the parent sleeps with it, the scent will last longer than it is only scented it for an hour.

30. How often should it be "re-scented"?

Every time the Zaky is washed.  If scenting it every time is not convenient, you may use the Zaky without scenting it. The baby will benefit from the soothing touch, support, containment and boundaries.  The scent will make it even more effective.

31. Is this product ready to use right away, or does it needs to be washed first?

As with everything that is not sterile, the Zakys need to be washed before using them.