Neonatal Nursing

Knowledge to support learning in practice

Neonatal care is one specialty within the field of Children's nursing as a whole. Student nurses undergoing the 3-year children's nursing degree at the University of Hertfordshire will go to a neonatal unit as one of their practice placements during year 1, 2 or 3.


This is an overview of neonatal care and what the student nurse or midwife is likely to expect to see during their placement. It is important for anyone new to an area of care to learn about the specifics of that speciality as distinct from other practice areas.

Neonatal care can be complex and there is much to learn in relation to the knowledge required to support both theory and practice.

Neonatal Nursing as a speciality

Neonatal care is organised into levels of dependency: transitional, special, high-dependency and intensive care. Neonates are admitted to the neonatal unit (NNU) from delivery suite or from another NNU following referral and transportation.

For both the neonate and family, admission to the NNU is a stressful time and it is important to remember this when planning and providing holistic care. Family centered care is essential, where the parents/carers are regarded as equal partners in their baby's care.


There are important links between neonatal conditions and the care received in the early days of life with the ongoing, continuing care of the child later in life. This is relevant for children's nurses in relation to placing neonatal care into the context of paediatrics as whole.

The neonate is different in many ways to the older child and adult and understanding these unique differences is also important to fully grasp the significance of neonatal care.

Explore resources on the following topics to learn more about the specifics of the neonate and relevant care issues:


Tools to support knowledge for practice self-directed learning resource.

'Knowledge for Neonatal Nursing practice' Click on the image to go to the learning tool.

Explore this interactive learning tool written by Julia Petty (Senior Lecturer in Children's Nursing) on Essential knowledge for care of the neonate and family.

Work through 14 district units, read the slides, complete the quizzes and download the Fact sheets and reading lists for each unit.

Resources for Nursing Practice

Resources for Bedside Practice A-G:

This section includes quick reference information relevant to the care of the neonate in the clinical setting.

The purpose is to give general information for bedside knowledge to support practice. It is not the intention to give lengthy explanations or protocols, neither is it to replace approved polices or company equipment user-guides. Rather, it is to offer the brief points of information necessary to guide and support knowledge for bedside care. Reference should always be made to any existing protocols or formal practice guidelines in one's own unit.

More information

For further information or if you have any questions relating to the resources on this webpage, please contact Julia Petty, Senior Lecturer in Children's Nursing, School of Health and Social Work.