Informed parental consent reminds the health professional to respect parent autonomy with respect to their infant's health care. It involves at least four elements: information, assessment of understanding, assessment of capacity, and freedom to choose. Critical issues are training of staff, timing of approach, and quality and presentation of information. In the newborn period, additional problems include parental distress and competence, consent for research into emergency treatments (exceptions to this are proposed below); screening for future disease, circumcision and withdrawing intensive care are considered as special cases. Variation in practice and policies in European neonatal units is described.