Newborn Behavioural Observations (NBO)

The NBO is best understood as a relationship building tool. It is inherently interactive and family-centred, because parents are involved as partners in the NBO session throughout. Therefore, while the NBO aims at fostering positive parent-infant interaction, it also aims at promoting a positive relationship – a partnership – between practitioner and parents.

The NBO system consists of a set of 18 neurobehavioural observations of the newborn, including:

  • capacity to habituate to external light and sound stimuli (sleep protection)
  • the quality of motor tone and activity level
  • capacity for self-regulation (including crying and consolability)
  • response to stress (indices of the infant’s threshold for stimulation)
  • visual, auditory and social-interactive capacities (degree of alertness and response to both human and non-human stimuli)

The rich and individualised information that the NBO provides allows parents to appreciate their baby’s unique competencies and vulnerabilities, helping them understand and respond to their baby, in a way that meets her/his developmental needs. 

This understanding will help the parents develop the kind of confidence they need to support their baby’s development and enjoy the experience of being a new parent, thus promoting positive parent-infant interactions.

While the NBO was developed to meet the needs of parents, it is designed to be a helpful and flexible tool for practitioners who work with parents during the perinatal period, and can easily be integrated into routine home visits. The NBO is recommended in the National Health Visiting Service Specification, 2015/16.

About the NBO course

The NBO course will consist of baby observations designed to support parents in reading their own baby’s signals and cues.  Research has shown this promotes positive interactions, increases parental confidence in caregiving, and practitioners’ knowledge and confidence. 

This two-day course is designed for practitioners working with families and newborns wanting to learn more about baby behaviour. 

To become certified in the NBO practice on 5 babies is required after the training course. During this process, there is the opportunity for two follow-up mentoring conference calls and unlimited support by email. 

The content of this course has been certified by the CPD Certification Service as conforming to continuing professional development principles. CPD certificates will be issued upon completion of the course.

Click here to see our programme

Target audiences: 

Practitioners involved in clinical work with infants and families and in research on infant development and infant-parent issues (Health Visitors, Midwives, Nurses, GPs, Psychologists, Psychiatrists, Physiotherapists, OTs, etc.).

By the end of this training course practitioners will:

  • Understand how newborn babies communicate.
  • Know about different behavioural states of infants.
  • Understand infants’ self-regulatory behaviours.
  • Know the signs of overstimulation or need for a break
  • Learn soothing techniques to console the baby. Understand how to support parents in a strength-based way, taking into consideration the parents’ needs

Please note that participants will need to bring the following items to the course:

  • The NBO book: 'Understanding Newborn Behavior & Early Relationships:  The Newborn Behavioral Observations (NBO) System Handbook’.  Authors: J. KevinNugent, Constance H. Keefer, Susan Minear, Lise C. Johnson, Yvette Blanchard ISBN: 9781557668837 Brookes Publishing Company, Baltimore
  • A doll to work with (such as the dolls used for infant massage).

Click here to watch Dr Betty Hutchon presenting an overview of the course


Our next national NBO Training course will be jointly organised with the Royal Society of Medicine in London on 26th & 27th April 2018. 

To be notified when registration is open please contact Verity Cotton on maternity@rsm.ac.uk