Newborn Behavioural Assessment (NBO)

The Newborn Behavioural Observations system…What is it ?


The Newborn Behavioural Observation System (NBO) is based on the pioneering research and work into infant behaviour carried out by American Paediatrician Dr T Berry Brazelton (see

The NBO can be used with all babies up to 12 weeks old and essentially gives them a voice. For many years newborns were thought of as quite helpless, with random behaviours. However, through the work of Brazelton and others we now know that this is not the case. Babies are born wanting to communicate and interact.

The NBO is a structured set of observations designed to help the clinician and parent together, to observe the infant’s behavioural capacities and identify the kind of support the infant needs for his successful growth and development. The NBO system consists of a set of 18 neurobehavioural observations, which describe the newborn’s capacities and behavioural adaptation from birth to the third month of life. While it describes the infant’s capacities, the NBO provides parents with individualised information about their infant’s behaviour, so that they can appreciate their baby’s unique competencies and vulnerabilities and thereby understand and respond to their baby, in a way that meets her/his developmental needs.

While the NBO attempts to reveal the full richness of the newborn’s behavioural repertoire, the clinical focus is on the infant’s individuality, on the aspects of behaviour that make the baby unique and different. In other words, the NBO provides the baby with a “voice”, with a “signature”. It gives the baby an opportunity to tell the caregiver who he or she is, if you will, what her preferences are and what her vulnerabilities might be and in what areas she may need support. By providing this behavioural profile of the infant’s strengths and challenges, the NBO can provide clinicians with the kind of individualised guidance that can help parents meet their baby’s needs. This, in turn, 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.

By the end of the exam, the examiner has developed a vibrant portrait of the newborn, which can be used to tailor care giving to the baby’s specific physical needs and behavioural style. Does the baby like to be handled? Is the baby receptive to social interaction? Does the baby easily calm herself?

Who might benefit from having an assessment ?

  • Baby feeding disturbance
  • Baby Sleep disturbance
  • Attachment/bonding  difficulties
  • Post natal depression mothers
  •  Agitated baby
  • Parents who would like a deeper understanding of their new baby

Only a small number of professionals in the UK have been trained to provide the NBO.

The assessment will be carried out by Julie Whitehead who is a trained Newborn behaviour Observation (NBO)practitioner . Assessments are usually carried out at the hub but home visits can be discussed. The assessment usually takes about an hour in total and you will be given written feed back about your baby.

Cost . NBO Assessment at the hub in Portsmouth £75    Home visit Portsmouth area £95

For more info or to book an assessment please call/mail Julie

07833247634 [email protected]


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