An interprofessional committee of neonatal experts has convened for more than 5 years, to study the science, evidence, and best practice of developmental care; and the associated outcomes to the baby and family. The purpose was to establish a document of standardized practice to implement collaborative team management with babies and families through the continuum of hospital to home care. The committee identified gaps in care management/practice to include: a) lack of collaborative function of health care providers and caregivers to perform neurodevelopmental management of the baby, b) failure to consistently include the parents/family as members of the team, c) variation in the application of interventions to satisfy mutual goals for the health and wellbeing of babies, families, and staff, d) inability to recognize the communication of the baby in response to intervention, and e) inadequate education and mentoring to guide effective interaction with the baby. It is vital that care be managed “with” the baby, instead of “to” the baby.
Consequently, based on the mounting evidence of the neuroprotective aspects of infant family centered developmental care (IFCDC)and the importance of supporting infant mental health (IMH), it is critical that the baby’s behavioral communication and the nurturing relationship of the parent(s)/family be central to managing and delivering care. Practices that support the message and interaction of the baby and parents can no longer be viewed as “additional” or “optional”, but should be integrated as an essential part of medical management, and caregiving for babies and their families.