About the NIDCAP Federation International

What is NIDCAP?

Hospitalized newborns are faced with uncertainty due to their preterm birth and/or illness and the intensive care environment can be a shocking place for them. Babies in the newborn intensive unit are exposed to bright lights, cold temperatures, loud sounds, a tangle of tubes and wires, and experiences of discomfort and pain. These experiences may interfere with healthy development, causing serious medical and developmental issues.

NIDCAP, which stands for Newborn Individualized Care and Assessment Program, was developed to support infants and their families in and beyond the intensive care unit. NIDCAP seeks to minimize stressful experiences, separation from parents and support development with consistent caregiving. NIDCAP individualizes care based on the strengths and needs of each infant and family. NIDCAP supports high-risk newborns to reach their full potentials and their parents to be their infants’ advocates, protectors and nurturers.

This caregiving approach is based on in-depth research. Some examples of NIDCAP care’s positive effects on the overall health and development of premature and high-risk infants are:

  • Enhanced brain structure and function
  • Shortened hospital stays
  • Strong weight gain
  • Improved behavioral outcome in infancy and at school age

NIDCAP is an extensive worldwide training program for healthcare professionals. Education is provided to understand and respond to infants’ behaviors and support family/infant relationships as critically important for short and long-term health, development and wellbeing. To find out more about NIDCAP go to www.nidcap.org and contact your nearest NIDCAP Training Center!

About the NIDCAP Federation International (NFI)

NIDCAP is the gold standard for developmental care. This program and its development are overseen and promoted by the NFI, a non-profit organization. NFI members, including professionals from various disciplines, parents and families of preterm and ill infants, and graduates of infant hospital care settings themselves, work together to increase awareness of the importance of NIDCAP care for preterm and ill newborns.

The History of NIDCAP

From years of observing infants in the newborn intensive care settings, Dr. Heidelise Als, an internationally-known psychologist and scientist at Boston Children’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School, and her colleagues, pioneered a way to understand how babies communicate. She watched these very small babies ever so closely and noticed changes in their breathing, color, movements, sleep and wakefulness and much more. Dr. Als discovered that their “voice” can be interpreted through their behavior. And that these understandings can be used for comfort and support. This approach is now practiced around the world as NIDCAP.

Over the past forty years, the NIDCAP Trainers, Professionals and Supporters have advocated for NIDCAP care for hospitalized newborns.

Here are some of the achievements of NIDCAP and the NFI over the past four decades:

1970s    NIDCAP is born in the late 70s
1981      NIDCAP Research Begins
1982      First NIDCAP Training Center Opens in Boston, Massachusetts, USA
1982      Assessment of Preterm Infants’ Behavior (APIB) is published
1984      First NIDCAP Certification bestowed
1990      First NIDCAP Trainers Meeting
1999      First NIDCAP Training Center in Europe (Stockholm, Sweden) opens
2001      NIDCAP Federation International is incorporated & Board of Directors formed
2005      First NIDCAP Training Center in South America (Buenos Aires, Argentina) opens
2008      First NIDCAP Nursery Certification conferred
2013      First NFI Chapter Established (NIDCAP France)
2017      First NIDCAP Training Centers in Canada (Edmonton, Alberta) and Australasia (Westmead, Australia) open
2018      First NIDCAP Training Center in the Middle East (Kfar Saba, Israel) opens
2019      24 Training Centers globally & >2000 staff have completed NIDCAP Training

The NFI and its members strive for NIDCAP to be the standard of care in all nurseries around the world.