Leo’s Services

We provide an array of different, caring, nurturing support for neonatal families. You can find out all about the work we do below.

Peer Support

When families refer in, they often ask us, what is peer support and do I need it?

We like to think you do! Peer support, even if you don’t think you need it, can help you hugely.

Our peer mentors here at Leo’s have been on a neonatal unit, their baby or babies have been born too soon, or sick and required a neonatal stay. Now, they want to support families just like theirs.

They understand the range of emotions you may be feeling. They are extremely empathic, and have dedicated training in everything from perinatal and infant mental health, long-term mental health needs, training in ways to help your child meet their own individual milestones, and so much more.

Sometimes, this may just be as simple as offering you the space to talk freely about how you may be feeling without any judgement (we’ve had those ‘ugly’ emotions too), signposting, accompanying you to appointments, sharing advice and guidance, providing at home experiences for your little one, memory making, support with birth reflections and so much more.

Neonatal Counselling & Trauma Service

Our dedicated neonatal counselling and trauma service offers a wide range of support for families.

Our BACP registered therapists have been working with neonatal families for the last three years, with their focus being solely on helping a parent or carer get to where they want to be.

They offer person-centered counselling in neonatal trauma, birth trauma, triggers, diagnosis, neonatal / PICU bereavement, additional hospital admissions, PICU trauma, investigations, birth and hospital admission reflections, going back to work, loss of identity and so much more.

Our peer support mentors work in collaboration with our therapists in what we call ‘wrap around care’. This allows families to utilise their counselling sessions to process any trauma or experiences, while our mentors are on hand to help with the day to day support.

The types of counselling we offer include, person centered talking therapy, Flash Technique, High CBT, Creative Therapies and EMDR.

Newborn Behavioural Observation

Babies communicate with us from the moment they are born, and by learning their unique and individual style of telling us how they’re feeling, we can make sure we’re listening to them every step of the way.

Our team are trained in the Brazleton High Risk NBO, allowing us to support our neonatal babies. The NBO can be done on a neonatal unit, or at home for up to three months corrected age.

The NBO is there to reassure families that everything they’re doing for their baby is everything they need.

It allows us to wonder together about baby, their blossoming personality, what the love (big hint – this is you!), when they need things to slow down, pause or stop.

Bath Babies

Leo’s is the only provider of Bath Babies, designed by Aqua Sensory, in the region, and the only provider of it for neonatal families in the UK.

But, what is Bath Babies?

Water provides a gentle, calming, sensory experience for babies. After lots of different procedures in the NICU, we like to give the babies in our care the opportunity to experience something wonderful to help with their development.

Classes incorporate The NBO, infant massage, opportunities for plenty of skin to skin and positive touch, co-regulation (where both you and baby do a remarkable job of making each other feel lovely), targetted sensory activities in the baby baths, memory making, and are all baby-led. If your little one is telling us that they want us to stop, slow down, pause, rewind, we follow them.

There’s also guidance on swaddled bathing if you want to continue this at home.

Each class is ran by a dedicated Leo’s peer mentor, meaning not only do you get well-being support, you’re also getting support for your baby’s development.

Sensory Swimming (Babies)

In 2022, in partnership with The Happy Swim Company and The Fish Tank, we created a dedicated neonatal sensory swimming programme.

Our neonatal baby sensory swimming sessions, follow on from our Bath Babies course (if families prefer), and offer our families a range of benefits.

Our classes are fully inclusive, meaning babies with oxygen, NG tubes etc are able to join in this amazing experience.

We have peer mentors within the pool too – so if families start to feel overwhelmed, their day is feeling a bit heavy, or they’re nervous, we’re on hand to help and support them.

Our classes incorporate the NBO, Aqua Sensory’s Water’s Touch, years and years of teaching expertise, and are there to support baby’s development, and parent well-being.

Families will often stay for coffee and cake in the cafe after too – meaning it’s a great place to make friends.

The Fish Tank pool is *incredibly* clean, and lovely and warm too.

Baby Massage

Infant massage at Leo’s is highly beneficial for babies after a neonatal stay.

Our infant massage service gives plenty of opportunities for positive touch, support for baby’s development, caring for parent or family well-being and the ability to meet other families.

Massage is scientifically proven to have a wide-range of benefits for babies including: help with Colic, bowel worries / tummy troubles, sleep, muscle tone, well-being, congestion, dry skin, teething pain, it helps boost circulation and supports brain development.

But, most importantly, it’s a wonderful way for parents / carers and babies to enjoy each other.

Our staff team have enhanced their training to allow them to teach massage for children with an array of additional needs including, suspected Cerebral Palsy, Down Syndrome, cardiac concerns, prematurity and more.

Infant massage is suitable from 8 weeks corrected age, and can be delivered 1:1 via online video, or in a group setting.

Neonatal Baby and Infant Yoga

Our specialised neonatal baby and infant yoga classes, are a great way to help support a child’s development after a neonatal stay, and most importantly, give families the opportunity for bonding.

Yoga has an array of benefits, which include, helping with muscle tone and strength, physical, psychological and developmental benefits, it works to compliment NHS therapies such as OT, Physiotherapy and SALT, there’s plenty of opportunities for positive touch in areas which may be sensitive after a hospital stay, and it’s a wonderful activity to do together too!

Our classes are run by peer mentors and can be delivered 1:1 online or in a group setting. Our mentors are upskilled to work with additional needs, and will always speak to your clinical team to make sure we are working safely.

Yoga is suitable from 8 weeks corrected age.

Community Play

Our community play sessions are for the full family to enjoy.

Sessions run across the region at various places including, The Fish Tank Newton Aycliffe, The Alan Shearer Centre in Newcastle, Clart About Sensory Cafe in Durham, Rainbows in Seaham, Pen Dragon in Northallerton and Senses in Skelton.

These sessions are a great way to meet new neonatal families, and with them running both in the week, and on a weekend, you can bring any older or younger siblings, grandparents, aunties, uncles, best friends – or however your family looks like!

Sensory Swimming (Older)

In 2022, in partnership with The Happy Swim Company and The Fish Tank, we created a dedicated neonatal sensory swimming programme.

Our neonatal sensory swimming sessions, are for neonatal graduates aged two to eight years old, and are split into children who may be sensory seeking, or those who are sensory averse.

Each class is tailored to the individual needs of the child attending, and helps support regulation of the sensory systems. Not only that, the classes support gross motor skills, help children learn about water safety, and learn key swimming skills along the way.

Classes are fully inclusive meaning any child is able to attend. We work with clinical teams (e.g. Respiratory Consultants, Cardiac Consultants) to make sure the correct safety precautions are taken.

Most importantly, we listen to parents, they are experts in their children, so if we need to change something, we do.

Oh, and we also have heaps of fun! Here’s us playing Hungry Hippos in the pool….

Neonatal First Aid

Bringing a baby home from a neonatal stay, or having an older child need additional support, can be really daunting.

Which is why, in collaboration with Tumbles and Grumbles, we created our dedicated Neonatal First Aid course.

Tumbles and Grumbles owner, Caroline, has more than 20 years experience as a trauma paramedic, and juggles her first aid business, with still being a practicing paramedic with NEAS.

We combined her knowledge, with our knowledge, and made a course specifically for neonatal families, meaning the clinical guidance families get is always up to date.
Covering everything from signs of Sepsis, how to check respiration rate, when respiration rate is too high and what to do, weaning worries / choking, CPR, what a recession looks like and more.

Families are able, and encouraged to ask Caroline any questions they may feel relevant about their little one’s individual condition, and how things may need to be adapted.

Families also get a dedicated NICU to Paediatrics passport, a first aid book, an ATMIST form (to help when ringing 999) and a certificate.

Messy Play

Our taste safe messy play is a brilliant way for babies to explore textures, new tastes, and develop fine motor skills.
Sessions are ran by our peer mentor, Tammy, and are suitable for babies once they’re able to sit (either alone, or supported by a parent / carer or supportive seating).

Each session has a different theme to take families on an adventure, you’ll find yourself down on the farm, all the way out in the jungle, or even under the sea.
Sessions can take place 1:1 in the family home, or in a class setting.
All allergies are catered for, and these classes compliment NHS therapies including OT, SALT and physiotherapy.