Developmental care in the newborn intensive care unit

Curr Opin Pediatr. 1998 Apr;10(2):138-42. doi: 10.1097/00008480-199804000-00004.


Developmental care is a framework that encompasses all care procedures as well as social and physical aspects in the newborn intensive care unit. Its goal is to support each individual infant to be as stable, well-organized, and competent as possible. The infant's physiologic and behavioral expression of current functioning is seen as the reliably available guide for caregivers to estimate the infant's current strengths, vulnerabilities, and thresholds to disorganization; to identify the infant's own strategies and efforts in collaborating toward best progress; and to implement care in a way that enhances the infant's stability and competence. The family is understood to be the infant's primary coregulator. It is the caregivers' responsibility to maximize opportunities to enhance each infant's and family's strengths and reduce apparent stressors. Studies of the effectiveness of developmental care also identify implications for staff education and challenges for nursery-wide implementation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Caregivers
  • Child Development*
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infant, Premature
  • Intensive Care Units, Neonatal
  • Intensive Care, Neonatal*
  • Respiration, Artificial