T. Berry Brazelton’s role as researcher, clinician, and advocate for parents has been one of the formative influences in pediatrics in the United States for over 50 He was born in Waco, Texas, on May 10, 1918, and graduated from Princeton in 1940. In 1943 he graduated from the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York City, where he accepted a medical internship. In 1945 he moved to Boston to serve his medical residency at Massachusetts General Hospital before undertaking pediatric training at Children’s Hospital. His interest in child development led to training in child psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital and the James Jackson Putnam Children’s Center. He was a Fellow with Professor Jerome Bruner at the Center for Cognitive Studies at Harvard University. There, the process of integrating his dual interests—primary care pediatrics and child psychiatry—culminated in 1972, when he established the Child Development Unit, a pediatric training and research center at Children’s Hospital in Boston.
Dr. Brazelton was one of the pioneers in newborn behavioral research. In 1973, he and his colleagues developed the Neonatal Behavioral Assessment Scale (NBAS), widely acknowledged as the most innovative and comprehensive assessment of newborn behavior (Brazelton, 1973; 1985; Brazelton & Nugent, 1995). The NBAS has been used in hundreds of research studies to assess the effects of a wide range of pre and perinatal influences on newborn behavior. It has been used in cross-cultural studies and as a method of intervention to help parents understand and relate to their infants.
While Dr. Brazelton continued his daily pediatric practice, he taught pediatric residents, conducted research, and frequently appeared before Congressional committees in support of parental and medical leave. Like Benjamin Spock, to whom he has been compared, Dr. Brazelton’s many books for parents and his television show What Every Baby Knows have influenced the beliefs and practices of parents everywhere. His classic book Infants and Mothers focused on the nature of individual differences in behavior and was characterized by a deep respect for parents’ own decision-making abilities. He has published many other books for parents, more recently the Touchpoints and Brazelton Way books.
Dr. Brazelton is Clinical Professor Emeritus of Pediatrics at Harvard Medical School and is Professor of Psychiatry and Human Development at Brown University. In 1995, Harvard University Medical School established the T. Berry Brazelton Chair in Pediatrics. Dr. Brazelton is still actively involved with The Brazelton Touchpoints Program, a preventive outreach program that trains professionals to better serve families of infants and toddlers.
- Brazelton, T. (1973). Neonatal Behavioral Assessment Scale. Clinics on Developmental Medicine, No. 50. Philadelphia: William Heinema Medical Books.
- Brazelton, T. B. (1985). Early parent infant reciprocity. Progress in Reproductive Biology and Medicine, 2, 1–13.
- Brazelton, T. (1992). Touchpoints: Your child’s emotional and behavioral development. Cambridge, MA: Perseus.
- Brazelton, T. , & Nugent, J. K. (1995). The Neonatal Behavioral Assessment Scale. London: McKeith Press.
- Brazelton, T. , & Sparrow, J. D. (2001). Touchpoints three tosix. Cambridge, MA: Perseus. Available from http://www.brazelton-institute.com