Who We Are

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kevin nugent

The Brazelton Institute is dedicated to promoting the healthy development of infants and families, through research and education programs for people who care for children and their families in the first years of life. The Institute is based in the Division of Developmental Medicine, Boston Children's Hospital, which is an affiliate of the Harvard Medical School.

Dr. J. Kevin Nugent founded the Brazelton Institute in 1995. Building on T. Berry Brazelton's pioneering work with infants and families and based on more that 25 years of research and clinical practice, the Institute has as its goal the development of innovative service delivery models that target the changing health needs of children and families in today's society.

The work of the Brazelton Institute is based on the assumption that parents and families have the central and primary role in ensuring the health and well-being of their children. However, we believe that doctors, nurses, psychologists, psychiatrists, physical and occupational therapists, infancy and early intervention specialists, therapists, social workers and other allied health and education professionals in the community, are significant partners in providing services to parents. The Institute is committed to promoting and conducting research and training to ensure that the information offered to professionals and parents is reliable and trustworthy.

The Institute is the home of the Neonatal Behavioral Assessment Scale and provides training for clinicians and researchers on the Neonatal Behavioral Assessment Scale (NBAS) (Brazelton and Nugent, 2011) and of the Newborn Behavioral Observations (NBO) system. (Nugent, Keefer, O'Brien, Johnson, Blanchard, 2007); Nugent, J. K., Keefer, C.H., Minear, S., Johnson, L., Blanchard, Y. (2010). Guia par comprender el comportamineto y las relaciones tempranas del recein nacido. Madrid: TEA Ediciones

The NBAS is regarded as the most comprehensive examination of newborn behavior available and is used in both research and clinical settings across the world. It is used to examine:

  • The effects of prematurity, low birthweight, undernutrition and a range of pre-and perinatal risk factors
  • The effects of obstetric medication/mode of delivery
  • The effects of prenatal substance exposure
  • Studies of neonatal behavior in different cultures
  • Prediction studies
  • Studies of primate behavior
  • The NBAS as a form of intervention with families

Kevin Nugent NBOThe Institute is also home to the NBO. The Newborn Behavioral Observations (NBO) system, comes from the NBAS tradition and grew from our desire to provide clinicians with a scale that retained the conceptual richness of the NBAS but shifted the focus from assessment and diagnosis to observation and relationship-building. We created the NBO to sensitize parents to their baby's competencies, in order to foster positive parent-infant interactions between parents and their new infant and thus contribute to the development of a positive parent-infant relationship. While the theoretical principles guiding the use of the NBO and the accompanying training program, include many of the conceptual themes that informed the NBAS, they are informed by theoretical and clinical principles from the fields of child development, behavioral pediatrics, nursing, early intervention and infant mental health. Moreover, the NBO was designed to be flexible and easy to use so that it could be easily integrated into the care of newborn families, whether on hospital, clinic or home settings. Recent studies show that the NBO is associated with more optimal parent-infant interaction, provider confidence in meeting family needs, increased father involvement and reduction in post-partum depression symptoms (McManus and Nugent, 2011; 2012; Nugent and Dym-Bartlett, 2014, Sanders and Buckner, 2006; Alvarez-Gomez, 2007; Kashiwabara, 2012).

The Brazelton Institute is recognized at local, national and international levels as a leader in developing and providing educational programs for professionals who care for young children and families in both hospital and clinical settings around the world.

The Brazelton Institute International Network consists of a network of professionals around the world who are dedicated to promoting the healthy development of NBO infants and families, through teaching and research. The primary goal of the Brazelton Institute International Network is to provide training in the use of the NBAS in different settings across the world.


AB INITIO international is the on-line publication of NBO/NBAS International. It was first published in 1989 to foster scholarly exchange among professionals working with infants and families. 

We are grateful to have been ranked #1 on U.S. News & World Report's list of the best children's hospitals in the nation for the third year in a row, an honor we could not have achieved without the patients and families who inspire us to do our very best for them. Thanks to you, Boston Children's is a place where we can write the greatest children's stories ever told.”
- Sandra L. Fenwick, President and CEO

Boston Children's Hospital 300 Longwood Avenue, Boston, MA 02115 617-355-6000 | 800-355-7944