Professionals Partnering with Newborns and their Families: A Guide for Practitioners from the Illinois Newborn Practice Roundtable




Claudia Quigg, Julie Anderson, Cindy Bardeleben, Phyllis Bliven, Patricia Garcia-Arena, Linda Gilkerson, Maria Goad, Tori Graham, Linda Horwitz, Michelle Lee, Nancy Mork, Laura Nikolovska, Penny Smith, Ellen Walsh, Nick Wechsler, and Deb Widenhofer

Brief Type

Issue Brief



The Newborn period is a real “wet cement” time in which the words we speak to families become written into their family history and into the life narrative of the Newborn. For this reason, professionals who impact these families have an obligation to learn from the science of infant development as well as the disciplines of both adult learning and relationship building. If the Newborn period offers a critical opportunity for our working relationships with families, we want to make the most of this opportunity.

The Newborn period (loosely defined as birth to the age of three months) is characterized by great vulnerability both for infants and for the families who care for them. Parents and children are learning minute by minute about each other and about themselves. The unique strengths and needs which emerge at this time give professionals an exceptional opportunity for coming alongside families to develop supportive relationships.

In fact, relationships are the work of this period: Newborns are seeking relationships with their parents and parents are viewing their relationships with their children in a new reality. Relationships within the family system shift. As we enter the scene, parents decide whether or not to allow us to come alongside them in a supportive relationship. All of these relationships are forming simultaneously along some striking parallels. The same lessons of trust and dependability form the secure basis for them all.

The Illinois Newborn Practice Roundtable—a consortium of 50-plus professionals from many disciplines serving Newborn families—recognized the need for our state to begin to bring together “what we know” which can positively impact “what we do” in our services to Newborns and their families. This document is a first step in compiling such information as a basis for our best practice with Newborns.

For the purposes of this booklet, the word “parent” refers to any adult who has a commitment to be a primary caregiver. This term includes mothers, fathers, step-parents, grandparents, foster parents, and any other adult who is committed to the care of the child. The term “family” includes those who are connected biologically or by choice to share their lives and provide for the care of one another. (author description)

Data Collection Methods



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Claudia Quigg


  • Participant Characteristics
  • Participant, Family, and Program Outcomes