City of Zagreb and Zagreb Child and Youth Protection Center pay tribute to mothers in Zagreb maternity wards by manual “In your arms – a guide for parents through the adventure of the first three years of child’s life” and flyer “Baby care during COVID-19 crisis”

Encourage and deep personal and professional touched by events in the City of Zagreb in the previous period due to the earthquake and a health crisis, and the experiences of mothers in Petrova Hospital after the first earthquake in March 2020, the City of Zagreb, Zagreb Child and Youth Protection Center and a multidisciplinary team of experts prepared manual for parents “In your arms – a guide for parents through the adventure of the first three years of child’s life” to more than 50 pages of expert text with infographics as parenting support until the third age of the child. In writing the manual inspiration is the strength, courage and love of parents with whom we have worked as experts, who have given us their trust, from which we learn.

The authors of the manual “In your arms” are Ella Selak Bagarić, master of psychology, Vanja Slijepčević Saftić, PhD, MD, neuropediatrician, Vlatka Boričević Maršanić, PhD, MD, psychiatrist and Krešimir Prijatelj, master of psychology.


The health crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as the economic crisis that accompanies it, deeply affects all individuals and society as a whole. Children are especially vulnerable, whose psychological well-being is especially endangered due to the lack of defense mechanisms in a situation of prolonged and extreme stress. Also, parents and those who will become so are particularly exposed to stress, because, although caring for a newborn is a beautiful but often demanding period in expanding the family, during the current health crisis, parents may have various questions about additional protection and care around the child, so as not to expose him to the risk of COVID-19 infection .


In addition to the manual, we have prepared a leaflet with all relevant scientific facts about baby care during a coronavirus pandemic. The leaflet “Newborn Care in COVID-19 Crisis” is not intentionally integrated into the manual, so that mothers can store it when the pandemic is behind us, and the manual will certainly be used daily from our clinical experience, as it contains valuable advice and guidelines.


The authors of the leaflet “Newborn care in the COVID-19 crisis” are Ella Selak Bagarić, master of psychology, Vanja Slijepčević Saftić, PhD, MD, neuropediatrician and Krešimir Prijatelj, master of psychology.

By the decision of Zagreb Mayor Milan Bandić, on April 29, 2020, the City of Zagreb established and appointed the Commission for the Protection of the Mental Health of Children and Youth of the City of Zagreb during and after the COVID-19 crisis. Director of the Zagreb Child and Youth Protection Center professor Gordana Buljan Flander, PhD was elected president by the decision of the Mayor, and psychologists from the Zagreb Child and Youth Protection Center Ella Selak Bagarić and Tea Brezinšćak were elected members of the Commission.

You can read more about the Commission at the link

One of the first activities of the Commission is the preparation and distribution of the manual “In your arms – a guide for parents through the adventure of the first three years of child’s life” and the leaflet “Newborn care in COVID-19 crisis”. This activity is intentionally one of the first in the work of the Commission, as a gift of our City to mothers in maternity hospitals, as faith and hope for a better tomorrow that comes to us, as a welcome to the world to our little fellow citizens, but also as a pledge for us adults to be here for children and that we will protect them.

So far, manuals and leaflets have been distributed in 500 copies to KBC Zagreb for Petrova Hospital, and another 900 copies of manuals and leaflets have been prepared and will be sent to three maternity hospitals in the coming weeks (Sveti Duh, Sestre Milosrdnice and Merkur).


You can download the free online edition of the manual (on Croatian language) U tvom naručju – Vodič za roditelje kroz pustolovinu prve tri godine djetetova života (PDF)

You will soon be able to pick up a flyer here as well!

The foreword to the manual was written by the Mayor of the City of Zagreb Milan Bandić, and the editors of the manual, professor Gordana Buljan Flander and Romana Galić, head of the City Office for Social Welfare and Persons with Disabilities. The reviewer of the manual is Dubravko Habek, PhD-MD, specialist in gynecology and obstetrics, subspecialist in fetal medicine and obstetrics, President of the College of Surgical Sciences of the Croatian Academy of Medical Sciences, Center for Gynecology and Obstetrics of the Hospital “Sveti Duh” in Zagreb, Croatian Catholic University in Zagreb. ”


From the foreword by the Mayor of the City of Zagreb Milan Bandić:

“Respected and dear fellow citizens,

Mothers of the most important citizens of our City – children, with congratulations on the most beautiful and most important role in life,

I would desire and that concepts like love, security and empathy are the first messages that your child will learn and looking at you, but in all the rest of us in the environment, which we are obliged to keep and raise. These are precisely the values that this manual is promoting, with the imperative to preserve health.

Children are a mirror of us adults and the progress of a society is reflected through our treatment of children. We have a duty to take care of their needs and health, gently and devotedly, so let this handbook be a promise to children that they can count on their City to do so. ”


From the words of the editor signed by Romana Galić, head of the City Office for Social Protection and Persons with Disabilities and director of the Zagreb Child and Youth Protection Center professor Gordana Buljan Flander, PhD:

“Dear moms and dads, the adventure of a lifetime awaits you, in which you have the most important role in the world – to be a parent. We have prepared this handbook as professional support for your parenting. In writing the pages of the manual, our inspiration was the strength, courage and love of all the parents we have worked with so far as experts, who have given us their trust, from whom we have learned. Show your child that your love is unconditional, but also that setting boundaries means you care about him. Let your messages to the child be “I believe in you” and “I believe in you.” Let your child grow strong enough to know that it doesn’t always have to be strong. I want you and him / her to always count on each other – unconditionally, unreservedly, endlessly. We want you as parents to enjoy how important you are to your child, and that he believes every day that it is most important to you. Share with your child your hunger for knowledge, explore together and be curious about everything the child is interested in. Let him / her take the ace on his / her adventures; follow him in growing up and his needs. One day, your greatest achievement will be to see how your child has grown into a person happy with themselves and their choices. And you will know that as a mom, as a dad, you have succeeded. ”


From the review of Dubravko Habek, PhD-MD:

The booklet “In your arms” is a guide for parents written by doctors and practicing psychologists who participate every day in preserving the health of the youngest and dearest and creating healthy families. It is made up of extremely useful tips based on the proven facts of 21st century medicine and psychology to help parents understand and master parenting by creating interactions between them and the little creature that they could only feel and watch through ultrasound during pregnancy and for the first time to see him at birth. This easy-to-read guide, emphasizing the necessity of understanding each child as an anthropological individual, will impart insights into proven prenatal and postnatal programming, groups of extremely important processes that directly affect a child’s somatic, social, and psychological development. Reading a booklet written by doctors and psychologists as mediators and parents as direct participants in the creation of a small “independent”, it sparks the necessity of understanding responsible parenting.

In the flood of literally all kinds of advice from various non-professional associations that do not use the knowledge of medicine and psychology, but use poor translations of unprofessional literature to use the world of media for so-called advice, parents are often misdirected, which directly reflects on public health.

Sincere congratulations to well-known Croatian doctors and psychologists on their efforts to publish this necessary guide for the benefit of our parents and to help create the necessary normal family relationships.

And as our Oliver, dear parents, sang, “the key to life is in your hand.”

Disclaimer: This is unofficial translation provided for information purposes. Zagreb Child and Youth Protection Center cannot be held legally responsible for any translation inaccuracy.   

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