Date of Award


Document Type

Scholarly Project

Degree Name

Master of Occupational Therapy (MOT)


Occupational Therapy

First Advisor

Gail Bass


Intensive Care, Neonatal; Neonatal Nursing


One of the many challenges facing health care professionals practicing in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) is providing appropriate care that is sensitive, individualized, and supportive to infant development and parental roles (Lawhon, 2002). Because the families are often the ultimate advocates and caregivers for infants in the NICU it is important that they understand and take part in their babies' care. Therefore, by providing clear and easy to understand explanations of equipment, technology, and procedures that are a part of the NICU environment, professionals can help alleviate parental stress and promote parental involvement.

An extensive review of literature was completed and it included the history of the NICU, current best practice, physical context of the NICU, infants in the NICU, infant occupations, occupational therapy interventions in the NICU, family experiences in the NICU, and continuing care. We also visited area neonatal intensive care units to gather information and examples of resources that are given to parents while their child is in the NICU. It was concluded that families may benefit from the provision of a concise and user friendly resource that can be utilized during their child's stay in the NICU.

A resource manual was developed to provide families with an easy to understand guide to help navigate the complex environment of the NICU. The manual is divided into sections and includes information about: staff and caregiver roles, common conditions that an infant in the NICU may experience, equipment that is typically seen in the NICU, behavioral cues that an infant may display, tips to promote bonding with an infant, information on feeding and positioning, and information that may ease the transition home. Each section provides easy to read descriptions of the various topics and pictures to facilitate understanding of the material presented.