Thomas Berry Brazelton
is a noted pediatrician and author in the United States. Major hospitals throughout the world use the Brazelton Neonatal Behavioral Assessment Scale
The Neonatal Behavioral Assessment Scale was developed in 1973 by Dr. T. Berry Brazelton and his colleagues. It evaluates a wide range of 38 behaviors to build a behavioral profile of an infant up to 2 months old. This approach was innovative for recognizing that a baby is a highly-developed...
(NBAS). Many parents know him as the host of a cable television program What Every Baby Knows
, and as author of a syndicated newspaper column. Dr. Brazelton has written more than two hundred scholarly papers and twenty four books. His Columbia Alumni Profile
describes him as "America's most celebrated and influential baby doctor since Benjamin Spock
Benjamin McLane Spock was an American pediatrician whose book Baby and Child Care, published in 1946, is one of the biggest best-sellers of all time. Its message to mothers is that "you know more than you think you do."Spock was the first pediatrician to study psychoanalysis to try to understand...
" (also a Columbia alumnus).
Brazelton was born in Waco, Texas
Waco is a city in and the county seat of McLennan County, Texas. Situated along the Brazos River and on the I-35 corridor, halfway between Dallas and Austin, it is the economic, cultural, and academic center of the 'Heart of Texas' region....
. He graduated in 1940 from Princeton
Princeton University is a private research university located in Princeton, New Jersey, United States. The school is one of the eight universities of the Ivy League, and is one of the nine Colonial Colleges founded before the American Revolution....
and in 1943 from the Columbia University
Columbia University in the City of New York is a private, Ivy League university in Manhattan, New York City. Columbia is the oldest institution of higher learning in the state of New York, the fifth oldest in the United States, and one of the country's nine Colonial Colleges founded before the...
College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York City
New York is the most populous city in the United States and the center of the New York Metropolitan Area, one of the most populous metropolitan areas in the world. New York exerts a significant impact upon global commerce, finance, media, art, fashion, research, technology, education, and...
, where he accepted a medical internship at Roosevelt Hospital. From 1945, after war service in the U.S. Navy, he completed his medical residency in Boston
Boston is the capital of and largest city in Massachusetts, and is one of the oldest cities in the United States. The largest city in New England, Boston is regarded as the unofficial "Capital of New England" for its economic and cultural impact on the entire New England region. The city proper had...
at Massachusetts General Hospital
Massachusetts General Hospital is a teaching hospital and biomedical research facility in the West End neighborhood of Boston, Massachusetts...
(MGH) before undertaking pediatric training at Children's Hospital of Boston.
He entered private practice in 1950, in Cambridge, Massachusetts
Cambridge is a city in Middlesex County, Massachusetts, United States, in the Greater Boston area. It was named in honor of the University of Cambridge in England, an important center of the Puritan theology embraced by the town's founders. Cambridge is home to two of the world's most prominent...
. His interest in child development led to training in child psychiatry at MGH and the James Jackson Putnam Children's Center. He subsequently served as a Fellow with Professor Jerome Bruner at the Center for Cognitive Studies at Harvard University
Harvard University is a private Ivy League university located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States, established in 1636 by the Massachusetts legislature. Harvard is the oldest institution of higher learning in the United States and the first corporation chartered in the country...
, then combined his interests in primary care pediatrics and child psychiatry and in 1972 established the Child Development Unit, a pediatric training and research center at Children's Hospital in Boston. Since 1988, he has been Clinical Professor of Pediatrics Emeritus at Harvard Medical School
Harvard Medical School is the graduate medical school of Harvard University. It is located in the Longwood Medical Area of the Mission Hill neighborhood of Boston, Massachusetts....
Dr. Brazelton was president of the Society for Research in Child Development
The Society for Research in Child Development is a professional society for the field of developmental psychology, focusing specifically on child development. It is a multidisciplinary, not-for-profit, professional association with a membership of approximately 5,500 researchers, practitioners,...
(1987–1989), and of the National Center for Clinical Infant Programs (1988–1991). He has appeared many times before Congress
The United States Congress is the bicameral legislature of the federal government of the United States, consisting of the Senate and the House of Representatives. The Congress meets in the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C....
ional committees in support of parental and medical leave bills, and continues to work with the Alliance for Better Child Care for a more comprehensive day care bill. He is a co-founder of Parent Action and serves on the National Commission on Children.
Dr. Brazelton has appeared several times on The Oprah Winfrey Show.
Dr. Brazelton's foremost achievement in pediatrics and child development has been to increase pediatricians' awareness of, and attention to, the effect of young children's behavior, activity states, and emotional expressions on the ways their parents react to, and thereby affect them. For example, one of his first publications in the field of psychology was a study with Kenneth Kaye
Kenneth Kaye is an American psychologist, writer, and business consultant whose research, books, and articles connect the fields of human development, family relationships and conflict resolution....
of the interaction between babies' sucking at breast or bottle and the mother's attempts to maintain it, the earliest form of human "dialogue". The Brazelton Neonatal Behavioral Assessment Scale (NBAS) assesses not only the physical and neurological responses of newborns, but also their emotional well being and individual differences.
Neonatal Behavioral Assessment Scale (NBAS)
The Scale, looks at a wide range of behaviors and is suitable for examining newborns and infants up to two months old. By the end of the assessment, the examiner has a behavioral "portrait" of the infant, describing the baby's strengths, adaptive responses and possible vulnerabilities. The examiner shares this portrait with parents to develop appropriate caregiving strategies aimed at enhancing the earliest relationship between babies and parents.
It evaluates a wide range of 38 behaviors to build a behavioral profile of an infant up to 2 months old. The Scale contains 28 behavioral and 18 reflex items. It assesses the baby's capabilities across different developmental areas (autonomic, motor, state and social-interactive systems) and describes how infants integrate these areas as they adapt to their new environment .This approach was innovative for recognizing that a baby is a highly-developed organism, even when just newly born. The profile describes the baby's strengths, adaptive responses and possible vulnerabilities.
The NBAS is based on several key assumptions.
First, infants, even ones that seem vulnerable, are highly capable when they are born. "A newborn already has nine months of experience when she is born," Dr. Brazelton notes. "She is capable of controlling her behavior in order to respond to her new environment."
Second, babies "communicate" through their behavior, which, although it may not always seem like it, is a rational language. Not only do infants respond to cues around them, like their parents' faces, but they also take steps to control their environment, such as crying to get a response from their caregivers.
Third, infants are social organisms, individuals with their own unique qualities, ready to shape as well as be shaped by the care giving environment.
Brazelton has a large extended family in Texas. His daughter Kitty Brazelton
Kitty Brazelton is an American vocalist, composer, flutist, and lead singer of the art-rock/alternative rock/avant-garde jazz band Dadadah. Brazelton is the daughter of pediatrician and author T. Berry Brazelton....
is an eclectic music composer and professor in New York City.
On January 12, 2009, Brazelton passed on an urban legend about cats smothering babies in his newspaper column as fact and advised expectant mothers to get rid of their cats. This outraged many animal experts, who tried to dispel this myth.