Neonatal Behavioural Assessment Scale

The Neonatal Behavioural Assessment Scale (NBAS) is the most comprehensive neurobehavioral assessment available for newborn babies, which gives a strength-based,  in-depth profile of an individual baby.

We offer training and certification in this tool which can be used in both clinical and research settings.


The NBAS Tool

The NBAS can be used with babies from birth to 2 months, premature babies from 35 weeks gestation and developmentally delayed babies.

In summary the NBAS shows:

  • The newborn’s responses to his/her new extra-uterine environment
  • The newborn’s contribution to the parent-infant relationship
  • The newborn’s individuality

The scale includes 53 scorable items which are either administered or observed:

  • Habituation (sleep protection)
  • Social Interactive responses and capabilities
  • Motor System
  • State Organisation and regulation
  • Autonomic System
  • Reflexes

Key assumptions the NBAS is based on:

  • Infants are social beings ready to communicate
  • Babies communicate through their behaviour
  • Infants’ communication is not random

Following an NBAS session the practitioner will be able to share with the parent all the baby’s amazing strengths, as well as areas of vulnerability, from which suggestions and guidance to support the baby can be given.

When it was developed, the NBAS offered the first strength-based assessment of babies – previous tests available were designed to test abnormalities!

Using the NBAS

The NBAS can be used by a wide range of professionals involved in clinical work with infants, including (not exhaustive)

  • Neonatal Doctors and Nurses
  • Paediatricians
  • Occupational Therapists

“If we accept the notion of the newborn as an active participant in early interaction, the careful assessment of an individual infant should help us to understand the infant’s side of the dialogue. Also, any professional who wants to support early attachment will find it useful to illuminate the nature and capacities of the baby for the parents.”

Dr. T. Berry Brazelton

It can also be used by researchers to examine, for example:

  • The effects of prematurity
  • Low birthweight
  • Neonatal behaviour in different cultures
  • Effects of prenatal substance exposure
  • Effect of exposure to maternal prenatal low mood

In clinical settings:

  • Give professionals in depth knowledge of infant development and behaviour
  • Add a strength-based perspective alongside other care and assessments
  • Offer fascinating insights and guidance to new parents thus helping build rapport with parents