The aim of this study was to describe Danish parents’ experiences when their newborn or small child was critically ill. Thirteen parents were interviewed. Data were analysed using qualitative content analysis.

The child’s transfer to the PICU meant either help or death for the parents. The back transfer was experienced as joy and despair.

The parents had confidence in most nurses; they were kind, helpful, informative and capable. Less capable and distressed nurses made the parents feel uncomfortable and insecure.

Parents need help and support during their child’s transfer to and from the PICU. Critical care nurses have to discuss the policy of family-centred care.1