Dr. T. Berry Brazelton, one of the world’s most respected experts on infant care, unfortunately passed three days after he celebrated his 100th birthday. We would like to take some time to acknowledge and celebrate the revolutionary impact Dr. Brazelton has made on the world. His work to understand the cognitive, physical and emotional development of children has transformed the way the world views children, natural childbirth, breastfeeding, and countless vital practices we use with children on a daily basis, and in doing so he drastically changed the way parents, caregivers, and professionals have cared and understood infants and toddlers.
It was once believed that newborns, could not hear, understand, or even feel pain before 2-3 months of age. Old medicine advised parents to keep children on a strict schedule, enforce obedience and stay clear of affectionate touches in order to foster a healthy child. In the event that children were hospitalized, parents were allowed very limited visitation hours.
Dr. Brazelton’s work took off when he held a one-day old baby and realized that the child was following his eyes and movements. He realized that moment that the antiquated belief that minimized the capabilities of newborns was far from truth.
“Berry made the link between the science and the need to have strong policies that supported families with babies, toddlers and young children. He used his visibility and fame to gain entry into Capitol Hill, and he became a public advocate for young children.” Matthew Melmed, Executive Director Zero To Three.
He worked with Congress to pass parental leave legislation and other parent-friendly measures. At age 95, he was awarded the Presidential Citizens Medal, the nation’s second-highest civilian honor. He was recognized for his ground breaking Neonatal Behavioral Assessment Scale (NBAS) which is now used worldwide to recognize the physical and neurological responses of newborns, his innovative, evidence-based approach to child development which utilizes practical tools and resources designed to strengthen parent-child relationships, and his lifelong dedication to encourage full communities to unite around promoting children’s healthy development.
As the author of more than 35 books and more than 200 scientific papers, Dr. Brazelton has spent his career changing the lives of generations. Our thoughts are with his family.