Abstract Introduction The ability to perform magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) without sedation in the neonatal period increases patient safety, availability and profitability of the diagnostic tool. The aim in this study was to evaluate a new protocol of MRI without sedation during a 20-month period. In the protocol, the patients are prepared in the neonatal unit. Patients and method Prospective descriptive study, from May 2012 to December 2013. Patients included were neonates requiring MRI, clinically stable and not requiring ventilatory support. The method was based on the application of developmental centered care and the use of a vacuum matress to immobilize the baby. The principal outcome parameter of interest was the percentage of succesfully completed MRIs. The duration of the MRI and the number of interruptions, was also studied from October 2012. Results A total of 43 MRIs without sedation were carried out on 42 patients: 41 cerebral and 2 spinal. The success rate was 97.7% (42/43). The mean MRI time was 26.3minutes (95% CI 23.3-29.3 mins; range 16-50 mins). MRIs were completed without interruption in 20 of the 34 cases (58%) in which the duration was recorded. The number of interruptions per procedure varied from 0 to 3, with a mean of 0.6 (95% CI 0.3-0.8) and a median of 0. Conclusion The protocol had a success rate of over 90%. Thus MRI without sedation seems applicable in Spanish hospitals, with most of the preparation being performed in the neonatal unit, in order to reduce the occupation of the MRI unit, as well as minimizing stress to the baby.