Substandard newborn care has been identified as a major contributor to the estimated annual 4 million neonatal deaths and 1 million fresh stillbirths. Low-income countries, including Nigeria account for more than 95% of all cases. A cross-sectional comparative study utilising non-participant observation methods was used to study perinatal care at two maternity centres in Lagos, Nigeria. Data on 63 mother-baby pairs were included in the study. Two stillbirths and two early neonatal deaths occurred during the study period, equally divided between the two hospitals. The partograph, a crucial tool for monitoring progress of labour, was in use in 77.4% vs 50% of cases at the two centres. The only interventions utilised for the prevention of hypothermia were drying and covering newborns with towels. Hygiene routines were poor and caring procedures did not demonstrate adequate knowledge related to a newborn's health. An enabling environment and supportive supervision is urgently required.