Developmental Care
Reducing stress for the patients in the neonatal unit 

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Understanding and implementing developmental care strategies

A baby’s environment is critical to their growth and development. Developmenal care strategies have been designed to reduce the stresses of the NICU for these infants as they are not yet ready for the world outside of their mother's womb. These strategies include a broad range of medical and nursing interventions1 which aim to provide an appropriate environment for each individual infant during this critical period in his or her neural development.

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Evolution of NICU Culture & Environment

Carole Kenner, founder and president of the Council of International Neonatal Nurses, discusses how the NICU culture has evolved in the past 30 years. She remembers the first NICU she worked in and talks about how different the environment was then. She reminds us that developmental care practices are just as important as other therapies and training should also be focused in this area.

10 Tips

Developmental care focuses on two key principles: first, family centred care, which emphasizes how important the parents are to the baby's development. Second, recognizing the signals given by premature babies in order to be able to respond to their needs. Print and post these 10 tips for your unit.

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Pro-Developmental Care for Premature Babies

The concept of pro-developmental care addresses precisely this topic: reducing stress for the patients in the neonatal unit as much as possible. This should in turn promote both neural and physiological development. The aim is to reduce long-term consequences, for example, abnormal behaviour and cognitive disorders. 

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1 Sizun J, Westrup B.  Early developmental care for preterm neonates: a call for more research.  Archives of Disease in Childhood - Fetal and Neonatal Edition 2004;89:F384-F388. 

2 Family-Centered Care: Current Applications and Future Directions in Pediatric Health Care. Matern Child Health J. 2012 Feb; 16(2): 297–305.

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