Two distinct architectural designs are found in today’s NICUs—the open-bay (OPBY) and the single-family room (SFR) designs. When neonatology was recognized as a medical subspecialty in the 1970s, the OPBY design was the only platform offered to neonates and families. The OPBY design facilitated communication between staff, collegiality, and interprofessional collaboration among members of the neonatal team. Over time, pitfalls to the design were recognized, including increased transmission of sound and light. As a result, the SFR design emerged offering a family-centered, customizable environment. Through recognition and adoption of best practices, the neurodevelopmental benefits to SFRs can be infused within the OPBY unit. This article aims to identify best practices to infuse the benefits of SFR design (such as low light, low sound, and less overstimulation) into the OPBY NICU to reduce negative stimulation and optimize developmental outcomes for vulnerable neonates.
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