Discovering Your Baby Project

The discovering your baby project is part of the Human Development Strategic Initiative at Austen Riggs.What is the Discovering Your Baby Project?

The Austen Riggs Center, in collaboration with multiple community organizations, launched the Discovering Your Baby Project (DYBP) in 2016 with the primary aim of supporting infants and parents in Berkshire County. The transition to parenthood is a critical time in the development of a family. By protecting time for listening to caregivers together with their newborns we hope to support new relationships and help parents connect with their own natural expertise. The Discovering Your Baby Project has four components, utilizing the Newborn Behavioral Observations system (NBO) as its foundation.

  1. NBO training for a range of community organizations
  2. Implementation of the NBO at the Fairview Hospital’s Family Birthplace
  3. Ongoing efforts to bring the community together around the importance of infant mental health

What is the Newborn Behavioral Observations System (NBO)?

The NBO is an infant-focused, family-centered relationship-building tool that draws on the work of renowned pediatrician T. Berry. Brazelton. While the medical model of care often puts the professional in the role of expert, this intervention seeks to shift that mindset, mobilizing parents' unique capacity to tune into and respond to their newborn. The 18 neurobehavioral observations of the NBO are not an assessment or evaluation. Rather, they offer a frame in which to support parents' earliest efforts to get to know their baby. Participants in the training learn together about how to engage parents' natural expertise and ability to listen to their baby's earliest communications as they navigate this dramatic transition in their lives.

The NBO demonstrates the baby’s behavior as a form of communication, supporting parents’ efforts to make sense of that communication. Parents who have experienced the NBO often remember it vividly years later. All caregivers and siblings can participate. The NBO creates time and space to make room for this new person within the family.

How is Berkshire County learning about the NBO?

We have collaborated with Berkshire United Way to provide NBO training for a wide range of practitioners who work with parents and infants. Participants in our first training in April 2017 included staff members from Fairview Hospital’s Family Birthplace, Community Health Programs (CHP) Family ServicesCHP GB Health CenterMACONY Pediatrics, Child Care of the Berkshires, Inc. (CCB) Healthy Families ProgramPorchlight Visiting Nurse Association/Home CareLifeWorks StudioBerkshire Nursing FamiliesPediatric Development Center, as well as a number of staff from the Austen Riggs Center. Our second annual NBO training in 2018 included home visitors serving all of Berkshire County, daycare providers at the Gladys Allen Brigham Center, and a range of others. Our third training is scheduled for March 30-31, 2019. We are conducting an ongoing study of the impact of the training on practitioners. 

How are the Austen Riggs Center and Fairview Hospital working together?

Austen Riggs has partnered with Fairview Hospital to offer the NBO to all families who deliver in their Family Birthplace. All Fairview nurses are being certified in the NBO and two recently presented their work with the NBO at the Organization of Nurse Leaders conference in Worcester, MA.

Who do I contact to learn more?

Jessica Vargas
Research Assistant