Abstract Background There is a need for a safe and effective non-pharmacological pain management method for preterm infants. The parents could be given an active role in the pain management which may help the parents to cope with the stress related to painful situations of the infant. Aims To examine the effectiveness of a method called ‘facilitated tucking by parents’ (a parent holds the infant in a flexed position) in pain management during endotracheal/pharyngeal suctioning of preterm infants. In addition, the parental perception of the method was studied. Study design A randomized crossover trial. Subjects Twenty preterm infants with one of their parents participated in the study. Infants' gestational age ranged from 24 to 33 (median 28) weeks and postnatal age from 6 to 37 days (median 15 days). Outcome measures The primary outcome was the Neonatal Infant Pain Scale (NIPS) score. Heart rate and oxygen saturation were recorded. Parents completed a questionnaire about their perception of the procedure. Results The highest NIPS score was median 3 (range from 2 to 6) using ‘facilitated tucking by parents’ and median 5 (range from 2 to 7) without tucking during suctioning ( p < 0.001). The infants calmed down more quickly after ‘facilitated tucking by parents’ (5 s vs. 17 s, p = 0.024). Nineteen out of twenty parents preferred facilitated tucking during suctioning compared to control care. Conclusions Facilitated tucking by parents is an effective and safe pain management method during suctioning of preterm infants. This study shows that parents can be given an active role in the pain care of their preterm infants.