Practical recommendations on room sizes for hospitalised newborn infants and their families based on a systematic review of the literature. 


Aim: Neonatal unit design may affect the neurodevelopment of hospitalised neonates and the well-being of parents and healthcare staff (HCS). We aimed to provide recommendations regarding the minimum area required for a hospital room for a single neonate and their family.

Methods: We searched PubMed and Web of Science for relevant articles published from 1 January 2011 to 1 May 2021 by using the keywords NICU and facility design. Recommendations were developed after internal and external review by a multidisciplinary group including 15 professionals and parent representatives.

Results: We identified 314 studies and developed six recommendations from four eligible studies. Recommendations for room size were developed according to three perspectives: opinions of users, who emphasised the need for a spacious room; proposals of organisations by HCS, which advocated for a minimum floor area of 11.2-18 m2 in a single non-family room and 15.3-24 m2 in a single-family room; and simulation methods indicating that the minimum floor area in the neonatal unit should be 18.5-24 m2 .

Conclusion: Units need to provide a minimum room size to allow for optimal newborn development and a better experience for parents and caregivers.