About Kevin Nugent

100_1965_2Dr. J. Kevin Nugent is Founder and Director of the Brazelton Institute in the Division of Developmental Medicine at the Children’s Hospital, Boston.  He is Professor Emeritus at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and Lecturer in Psychology at Harvard Medical School.

Professor Nugent was born in Mullingar in Ireland and was educated at St. Finian’s College, Mullingar, and later at St. Columban’s College, Navan.  He worked in the Philippines for six years and came to Boston where he received a degree in Philosophy (summa cum laude) and his doctorate in Developmental Psychology from Boston College. He has worked at Boston Children’s Hospital since 1978, teaching and conducting research on newborn behavior and early parent-infant relations. He has been a Lecturer in Psychology at Harvard Medical School since 1981.

Dr. Nugent has authored or co-authored 10 books (20 including translations), has written 22 book chapters and almost 100 scientific papers. Dr. Nugent and his colleagues, Drs. Keefer, O’Brien, Johnson and Blanchard, developed the Newborn Behavioral Observations (NBO) system, which was published by Brookes in 2007 (Understanding Newborn Behavior and Early Relationships). This relationship-building clinical tool is intended for use by clinicians in pediatric and intervention settings, as a way of sensitizing parents to the competencies and individuality of their infants. It is comprised of 18 neurobehavioral observations and is based on an individualized, infant-focused, family-centered approach to working with infants and families in the early months of life.  The Newborn Behavioral Observations books has been translated into Spanish and shortly into Norwegian and is being used in countries across all continents.  Dr. Nugent is also co-author with Dr. Brazelton of the Neonatal Behavioral Assessment Scale, third and fourth editions (1995 and 2011) and has been the director of training on the Neonatal Behavioral Assessment Scale since 1978.  The NBAS manual has been translated into French, Italian, Spanish, Norwegian, Korean and Japanese. He coordinates NBO and NBAS training worldwide.  Watch brief NBAS background video here.

Dr. Nugent and mother and newborn, Manila, 2005

Dr. Nugent with mother and newborn, Thailand, 2005

Among his other books are Using the NBAS with Infants and Families (1985) and the two-volume series, The Cultural Context of Infancy (1989, 1991), and  The Infant and Family in the 21st Century (2002), of which he is co-editor with Joao Gomes-Pedro, Berry Brazelton and Jerry Young.  Shortly after the NBO Handbook was published, along with co-editors Bonnie Petrauskas and Berry Brazelton, Dr. Nugent edited The Newborn as a Person: enabling healthy infant development worldwide (2009), which describes newborn research and practice in settings across the globe. In 2013, he completed a textbook, The Development of Children and Adolescents with Penny Hauser-Cram, Kathleen Thies and John F. Travers.   In 2011, with photographer Abelardo Morell, Dr. Nugent wrote Your Baby is speaking to You: A Visual Guide to the Amazing Behaviors of Your Newborn and Growing Baby, a book for new parents which has been in the Top Ten best sellers on Amazon. It is published by Houghton Mifflin and designed to help parents interpret their baby’s communication cues.  It has been translated into Italian and Turkish.

Professor Nugent’s areas of research include the effects of a range of prenatal teratogens on neonatal and developmental outcome, the transition to parenthood, the role of fathers, temperament and the use of the NBO in early intervention.  Dr. Nugent continues to conduct research in a variety of cultural settings. He has been co-investigator with Professor Sheila Greene at Trinity College, Dublin, in a longitudinal study of child development in Ireland. Dr. Nugent is currently engaged in an examination of the effects of the NBO as a form of preventative intervention in both hospital and Early Intervention settings.  He is editor of Ab Initio, the international on-line publication of the Brazelton Institute.

Dr. Nugent addressed the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Health and Children at Leinster House, Dublin, on Thursday 12th November, 2015.  The title of the presentation was “The first three years are a time of massive brain development, with lifelong implications for the child and for society”.

Dr. Nugent address the Irish parliament (Oireachtas) Dublin

Leinster House, Dublin: From left: Catherine Maguire, J. Kevin Nugent, Paul D’Alton, Aoife Menton

An article in the Irish Times by Dr. Paul D’Alton summarized the address. Click here to read the full article., while another article , entitled, “First 1,000 days of life key to happiness” by Tom O’Brien appeared in the Irish Times on Dec 23rd. 2015.  Click here to read the article.  Professor Nugent also was awarded the 2015 Presidential Citation from the Psychological Society of Ireland by Dr. Paul D’Alton, President of the PSI.  The citation read:

In recognition and deep appreciation for your significant contribution to infant mental health and the resulting betterment of the human project”.

Dr. Nugent was invited to deliver a Master Lecture at the World Association for Infant Mental Health Congress in Prague, and he delivered the Keynote Address in Helsinki for the Finland Association for Infant Mental Health in May, 2017.  He also lectured in Shanghai in April, 2017.  A highlight of this year so far was his address in the House of Lords in Westminster, London, on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the Brazelton UK Centre (See group photo below)


He also delivered the Keynote Address at the UK Brazelton Centre 20th anniversary Conference to be held at the Møller Centre, Churchill College, Cambridge.  

The Biennial Meeting of the NBO and NBAS trainer network (NewbornBehaviorInternational) organized by J. Kevin Nugent and hosted by Gherardo Rapisardi took place at Meyer Children’s Hospital in Florence, Italy, May 24-25th, 2018.  The meeting, entitled, “Celebrating Berry Brazelton and the Work he inspires”, drew 50 NBO and NBAS Trainers from 21 countries, from around the world.  Speakers included, J. Kevin Nugent, Ph.D., Gherardo Rapisardi, MD, Jessica Dym-Bartlett, PhD., Lise Johnson, MD, Susan Nicolson MD, PhD., Kari Slinning, Ph.D. and Susan Pawlby, Ph.D. (Below is the photo of the group attendees in Florence).

NBO and NBAS Trainers Florence, 2018

2 Responses to About Kevin Nugent

  1. maria bailey says:

    Father Tony in pompano beach gave me a copy of your beautiful book. I’d love to have you on Mom Talk Radio, http://www.momtalkradio.com . Please contact me.

  2. Tim O'Brien says:

    Thank you for the work that you do in promoting a good environment for infants. This is so important in Ireland. It was my pleasure to report for The Irish Times on your address to the Oireachtas (Houses of Parliament) in Dublin, and my delight to subsequently see a link to my report on your website. But you called me TOM!!!
    I can find in my heart to forgive 🙂 Keep up the good work, Tim O’Brien


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