Purpose: To describe neonatal unit policies and practices regarding the holding of infants by parents.
Design: U.S. national cross-sectional descriptive survey.
Sample: Nurses representing 215 neonatal units providing regional-level (22 percent), community-level (45 percent), and intermediate-level (33 percent) care.
Main outcome variable: Proportion of respondents who reported neonatal intensive care unit criteria permitting parents and family members to hold their infant by conventional and skin-to-skin methods.
Results: All but one of the neonatal units offered parents the chance to hold their extubated infants conventionally; 73 percent offered parents to hold their extubated infants skin-to-skin. Sixty-four percent of neonatal units offered parents the option to hold their intubated infants conventionally. In contrast, only 45 percent of the units offered parents to hold their intubated infants skin-to-skin. Factors that influenced parental holding practices included potential benefits to infants and parents, concerns about infant safety, and level of support from neonatal staff members.