The current project reports on an initial investigation into the factor structure of the Infant Crying Questionnaire (ICQ), a measure designed to assess parental beliefs about infant crying, in a sample of 259 primiparous mothers. Exploratory factor analyses yielded evidence for a five-factor structure to the ICQ, with two factors that may be conceptually viewed as infant-oriented beliefs regarding infant crying (Attachment/Comfort and Crying as Communication) and three factors conceptually reflecting parent-oriented beliefs regarding infant crying (Minimization, Directive Control, and Spoiling). Each of the scales demonstrated strong internal consistency and was associated with concurrent measures of mothers’ causal attributions about emotional responses to infant crying. Predictive validity to observed maternal sensitivity at 6 months and mother-reported infant behavioral problems at one year was demonstrated. The importance of a questionnaire method to assess parents’ beliefs regarding infant crying in developmental research is discussed and future methodological directions are outlined.
Infant crying; maternal sensitivity; exploratory factor analysis; reliability; validity
In the pediatric literature, excessive crying has been reported solely in association with 3-month colic and is described, if at all, as unexplained crying and fussing during the first 3 months of life. The bouts of crying are generally thought to be triggered by abdominal colic (over-inflation of the still immature gastrointestinal tract), and treatment is prescribed accordingly. According to this line of reasoning, excessive crying is harmless and resolves by the end of the third month without long-term consequences. However, there is evidence that it may cause tremendous distress in the mother-infant relationship, and can lead to disorders of behavioral and emotional regulation at the toddler stage (such as sleep and feeding disorders, chronic fussiness, excessive clinginess, and temper tantrums). Early treatment of excessive crying focuses on parent-infant communication, and parent-infant interaction in the context of soothing and settling the infant to sleep is a promising approach that may prevent later behavioral and emotional disorders in infancy.
Excessive crying; Behavioral and emotional regulation disorder; Infant
Few convincing treatment options have been identified for the excessively crying infant. One explanation may be a lack of identification of patient subgroups. This study used a clinically plausible categorization protocol to subgroup infants and compared changes in symptoms between these subgroups during treatment.
An observational cohort design was employed. All infants presenting with excessive infant crying between July 2007 and March 2008 were categorized into three subgroups, (A) infant colic, (B) irritable infant syndrome of musculoskeletal origin (IISMO) and (C) inefficient feeding crying infants with disordered sleep (IFCIDS) based on history and physical findings. Mothers completed questionnaires which rated their own and their child’s characteristics prior to and at the end, of a course of manual therapy. Independent associations between infant subgroups and changes in continuous outcomes (crying, stress, sleep, and consolability) were assessed. Multivariable analysis of covariance was used to identify and control for potential confounders.
A total of 158 infants were enrolled. There was no significant difference in demographic profile between groups or any significant difference in infant crying or level of maternal stress at the start. Only the putative subgroups were significantly associated with differences in outcomes. In general, colic babies improved the most in consolability and crying.
Babies with excessive crying should not be viewed as a homogenous group. Treatment outcomes may be improved by targeting appropriate subgroups prior to treatment.
Subgroups; infant colic; excessive crying of infancy; Sous-groupes; colique du nourrisson; pleurs excessifs du nourrisson
Infants who cry a lot, or are unsettled in the night, are common sources of concern for parents and costly problems for health services. The two types of problems have been linked together and attributed to a general disturbance of infant regulation. Yet the infant behaviours involved present differently, at separate ages and times of day. To clarify causation, this study aims to assess whether prolonged crying at 5–6 weeks (the peak age for crying) predicts which infants are unsettled in the night at 12 weeks of age (when most infants become settled at night).
Data from two longitudinal studies are analysed. Infant crying data were obtained from validated behaviour diaries; sleep-waking data from standard parental questionnaires.
A significant, weak relationship was found between crying at 5–6 weeks and 12-week night waking and signalling in one study, but not the other. Most infants who met the definition for prolonged crying/colic at 5–6 weeks were settled during the night at 12 weeks of age; they were not more likely than other infants to be unsettled.
Most infants who cry a lot at 5–6 weeks of age ‘sleep through the night’ at 12 weeks of age. This adds to evidence that the two types of problematic behaviour have different causes, and that infant sleep-waking problems usually involve maintenance of signalling behaviours rather than a generalised disturbance.
This study examined associations between mother–infant nighttime interactions and mother–infant attachment when infants were 12 months old. Forty-four mother–infant pairs participated in this study. For three consecutive nights at home, babies were observed in their cribs using a digital video system. Mothers reported on their nighttime interactions with their babies using a self-report diary and completed a questionnaire regarding child temperament. Attachment was assessed in the Strange Situation (Ainsworth, Blehar, Waters, & Wall, 1978). Mothers of securely attached infants had nighttime interactions that were generally more consistent, sensitive and responsive than those of insecurely attached infants. Specifically, in secure dyads, mothers generally picked up and soothed infants when they fussed or cried after an awakening.
maternal responsiveness; attachment; infants; nighttime; sleep
According to the commonest definition, infant colic is distinguished by crying which is 'paroxysmal'-that is, intense and different in type from normal fussing and crying. To test this, maternal reports of the distress type of 67 infants whose fuss/crying usually exceeded three hours a day ('persistent criers') were scrutinised using 24 hour audiorecordings of the infants' distressed vocalisation. 'Moderate criers' (n = 55) and 'evening criers' (n = 38) were also assessed. Most of the distress in all three groups was fussing. In the audiorecordings the persistent criers showed a higher crying: fussing ratio than the moderate criers, but intense crying was rare. A third of the persistent criers were reported by their mothers to have occasional, distinct colic bouts of 'intense, unsoothable crying and other behaviour, perhaps due to stomach or bowel pain.' In the audiorecordings these periods were longer, but not paroxysmal in onset or more intense than the crying of persistent criers not judged to have colic. The audible features of the crying may be less important than its unpredictable, prolonged, hard to soothe, and unexplained nature.
Researchers believe that cultural factors have important implications for infant pain expression and caregiver management strategies. Per capita, Canada accepts more immigrants than any other country. Thus, it is important to understand the impact of cultural identity on caregiver soothing behaviour and infant distress. The authors of this study aimed to explore the impact of maternal culture on the mother’s soothing behaviours and the level of distress expressed by the infant receiving an immunization injection. By assessing their level of acculturation and ensuring that the participants identified with both their self-reported heritage culture and mainstream North American culture, this study contributes to the pediatric pain literature by increasing our understanding of the nature of hypothesized social dimensions such as culture.
To investigate how maternal culture (ie, individualist versus collectivist) influences soothing techniques and infant distress.
Archival data were analyzed using a subsample of 80 mother-infant dyads selected from a larger database of infant pain expression.
Mothers belonging to the individualist group used more affection behaviours when attempting to regulate their infants’ distress. No differences were observed in mothers’ touching, holding, rocking, vocalizing, caregiving or distracting their infants. Mothers’ culture did not appear to be related to the level of distress expressed by their infants.
These results suggest that the similarities in soothing and infant pain expression between individualist and collectivist cultures are more prominent than their differences.
Acculturation; Culture; Mother-infant interactions; Pain; Soothing
With an increase in the prevalence of overweight being seen as early as infancy, it is essential that the factors which account for early excess weight gain be identified. In this study, maternal and infant characteristics were examined to determine their relation to the frequency of infants being fed. A cohort of 67 low-educated Mexican mothers who formula-fed their infants were recruited at a WIC Center and home-visited when their infants were 6-months-old. Mothers were surveyed with regard to their feeding attitudes and perception of their infant’s temperament, and kept a 24-hour diary of their infant’s behavior. Nearly 30% of the 6-month-old infants were at or above the 85th percentile of weight-for length. A regression analysis revealed only one factor, the number of infant crying episodes, as predictive of infant feeding (Beta = .246, p<.07), with the correlation even stronger (r =.35 (p<.01). As crying appeared to elicit feeding among these mothers, pediatricians, nurses, and WIC educators should consider discussing alternate strategies for quieting infants with the mothers they counsel.
Infant feeding; temperament; Mexican mothers
AIMS—To estimate the financial cost
to the NHS of infant crying and sleeping problems in the first 12 weeks
of age and to assess the cost effectiveness of behavioural and
educational interventions aimed at reducing infant crying and sleeping
problems relative to usual services.
METHODS—A cost burden analysis and
cost effectiveness analysis were conducted using data from the Crying
Or Sleeping Infants (COSI) Study, a three armed prospective randomised
controlled trial that randomly allocated 610 mothers to a behavioural
intervention (n = 205), an educational intervention (n = 202), or
existing services (control, n = 203). Main outcome measures were
annual total cost to the NHS of infant crying and sleeping problems in
the first 12 weeks, and incremental cost per interruption free night
gained for behavioural and educational interventions relative to control.
RESULTS—The annual total cost to
the NHS of infant crying and sleeping problems in the first 12 weeks
was £65 million (US$104 million). Incremental costs per interruption
free night gained for the behavioural intervention relative to control
were £0.56 (US$0.92). For the educational intervention relative to
control they were £4.13 (US$6.80).
CONCLUSIONS—The annual total cost
to the NHS of infant crying and sleeping problems is substantial. In
the cost effectiveness analysis, the behavioural intervention incurred
a small additional cost and produced a small significant benefit at 11 and 12 weeks of age. The educational intervention incurred a small
additional cost without producing a significant benefit.
Despite their common use parental diaries of infants' cry and fuss behaviour have not been compared with objective methods of recording. To understand what is meant by the descriptions of crying and fussing in the diaries, the diaries of 10 mothers of 6 week old infants were compared with tape recordings of vocalisations made by the babies over a 24 hour period. There were moderately strong correlations between the frequency of episodes (clusters of 'negative vocalisations') on the audiotape and episodes of 'crying and fussing' in the diaries, and between the duration of episodes on the audiotape and episodes of 'crying' in the diaries. To assess the acceptability of the diaries for recording information for clinical and epidemiological research, they were then used in a population study of a wide socioeconomic group. Usable data were obtained from 91% of the sample. The results suggest that despite pronounced differences between recording methods, these diaries may provide valid and useful reports of crying and fussing in the short term.
Shaken baby syndrome often occurs after shaking in response to crying bouts. We questioned whether the use of the educational materials from the Period of PURPLE Crying program would change maternal knowledge and behaviour related to shaking.
We performed a randomized controlled trial in which 1279 mothers received materials from the Period of PURPLE Crying program or control materials during a home visit by a nurse by 2 weeks after the birth of their child. At 5 weeks, the mothers completed a diary to record their behaviour and their infants' behaviour. Two months after giving birth, the mothers completed a telephone survey to assess their knowledge and behaviour.
The mean score (range 0–100 points) for knowledge about infant crying was greater among mothers who received the PURPLE materials (63.8 points) than among mothers who received the control materials (58.4 points) (difference 5.4 points, 95% confidence interval [CI] 4.1 to 6.5 points). The mean scores were similar for both groups for shaking knowledge and reported maternal responses to crying, inconsolable crying and self-talk responses. Compared with mothers who received control materials, mothers who received the PURPLE materials reported sharing information about walking away if frustrated more often (51.5% v. 38.5%, difference 13.0%, 95% CI 6.9% to 19.2%), the dangers of shaking (49.3% v. 36.4%, difference 12.9%, 95% CI 6.8% to 19.0%), and infant crying (67.6% v. 60.0%, difference 7.6%, 95% CI 1.7% to 13.5%). Walking away during inconsolable crying was significantly higher among mothers who received the PURPLE materials than among those who received control materials (0.067 v. 0.039 events per day, rate ratio 1.7, 95% CI 1.1 to 2.6).
The receipt of the Period of PURPLE Crying materials led to higher maternal scores for knowledge about infant crying and for some behaviours considered to be important for the prevention of shaking. (ClinicalTrials.gov trial register no. NCT00175422.)
Authors have recently suggested that difficult temperament in infancy may be associated with rapid weight gain, but none of the previous studies actually report associations between temperament and feeding as a response to infant distress. The purpose of the present study was to examine whether greater infant difficulty elicits more feeding, which in turn leads to more rapid weight gain in early infancy.
Mother-infant pairs (N=154) were visited at 3- and 6-months in their homes. Besides anthropometric measures, mothers kept a 24-hour diary of their infants’ sleep, cry, and feed patterns, and answered questions regarding feeding and infant difficultness.
Feeding occurred as a response to nearly half (48%) of the crying intervals recorded, though it more often occurred in the absence of crying (83%). Mothers were most likely to report holding or rocking their infant as the first strategy they would employ if their baby fussed or cried. A regression analysis that included crying, feeding, weaning, sleep and infant weight revealed maternal reports of numbers of feeds per day as the only variable that predicted weight gain from 3-6 months.
Infant crying is often followed by feeding, and more frequent feeding may promote more rapid weight gain. However, feeding frequency in the first few months appears to be more a matter of maternal discretion than a yoked response to temperamental difficulty. This does not preclude the possibility that overfeeding in later infancy could be tied to temperamental difficulty and subsequently related to overweight in early childhood.
Question As a family physician who frequently attends deliveries and follows up with neonates, parents often ask me if they can provide their newborns with pacifiers in order to calm infants down, reduce crying, and improve sleep. Is pacifier use safe in the first month of life?
Answer While pacifiers are useful for soothing, there is concern that their use might cause early weaning of breastfeeding owing to “nipple confusion.” Several organizations, such as the World Health Organization and the United Nations Children’s Fund, recommend avoiding use of pacifiers in term infants who breastfeed. However, evidence suggests that it might not be pacifier use that causes premature cessation of breastfeeding, and that use of pacifiers might only be a sign of a maternal decision to stop breastfeeding.
This study addresses a gap in the attachment literature by investigating maternal neural response to cry related to infant attachment classifications and behaviors. Twenty-two primiparous mothers and their 18-month old infants completed the Strange Situation Procedure (SS) to elicit attachment behaviors. During a separate functional MRI session, mothers were exposed to their own infant’s cry sound, as well as an unfamiliar infant’s cry and control sound. Maternal neural response to own infant cry related to both overall attachment security and specific infant behaviors. Mothers of less secure infants maintained greater activation to their cry in left parahippocampal and amygdala regions and the right posterior insula. consistent with a negative schematic response bias. Mothers of infants exhibiting more avoidant or contact maintaining behaviors during the SS showed diminished response across left prefrontal, parietal, and cerebellar areas involved in attentional processing and cognitive control. Mothers of infants exhibiting more disorganized behavior showed reduced response in bilateral temporal and subcallosal areas relevant to social cognition and emotion regulation. No differences by attachment classification were found. Implications for attachment transmission models are discussed.
attachment; mother; infant; fMRI; cry
Successful development during the first year of life is dependent on the infant’s ability to regulate behavioral and physiological state in response to unpredictable environmental challenges. While most infants develop skills to self-soothe and regulate behavior, a subset lacks these skills and develops regulatory disorders (RD).
To evaluate the component features of RD by determining if infants with RD differ from typically developing infants on measures of temperament, respiratory sinus arrhythmia, heart rate, and mother-infant interactions.
Parents of 50 9-month old infants completed behavioral questionnaires that provided information necessary to complete the Regulatory Disorders Checklist, which evaluates for difficulties in self-regulation and hypersensitivities. Infants with difficulties in both domains were assigned to the RD group. Mothers and their infants were videotaped interacting for 10 minutes. Infant heart rate was monitored before and during the mental development test.
The RD group (n=10) was more temperamentally difficult and exhibited atypical physiological regulation relative to infants with difficulties in either self-regulation or hypersensitivity (n=25) or infants with no difficulties (n=15). During the mother-infant interactions, the RD group exhibited more high-level withdrawal behaviors, including verbal and physical protests, although there were no differences in the quantity and quality of the maternal approaches.
Infants with RD have both temperamental and physiological regulation difficulties, and may be in a physiologically state that makes it difficult to moderate behavior in response to social demands. Mothers of RD infants might be taught to modify their behavior to help their infants regulate behavioral and physiological state.
Infants; regulatory disorders; difficult temperament; heart rate variability; respiratory sinus arrhythmia; mother-child interaction
Links between maternal emotional reactions to crying (anger and anxiety) and infant attachment security were examined in 119 mother-infant dyads. Mothers rated the intensity of their emotional responses to videotapes of crying infants prenatally. Maternal sensitivity was observed during infant exposure to emotion eliciting tasks at six and 16 months postpartum and mothers’ self-reported on their responses to their infant’s negative emotions at 16 months. Infant attachment security was assessed using the Strange Situation at 16 months postpartum. Results indicated that observed sensitivity was associated with fewer avoidant and resistant behaviors and prenatal maternal anger and anxiety in response to infant crying predicted the developing attachment system independent of observed sensitivity, but in different ways. Maternal anxiety in response to crying was positively associated with resistant behaviors as a direct effect. Maternal anger in response to crying was associated with avoidant behaviors indirectly through mothers’ self-reported punitive and minimizing responses to infant distress at sixteen months. Theoretical, applied and methodological implications are discussed.
attachment; infant crying; maternal emotions; maternal sensitivity
Newborns’ crying in response to the cry of another newborn has been called an empathetic response. The purpose of this study was to determine whether newborns of depressed mothers showed the same response. Newborns of depressed and non-depressed mothers were presented with cry sounds of themselves or other infants, and their sucking and heart rate were recorded. The newborns of non-depressed mothers responded to the cry sounds of other infants with reduced sucking and decreased heart rate. In contrast, the newborns of depressed mothers did not show a change in their sucking or heart rate to the cry sound of other infants. This lesser attentiveness/responsiveness to other infants’ cry sounds may predict their later lack of empathy.
Newborns of depressed mothers; Discrimination Cry sounds
This study investigated depression-related differences in primiparous mothers’ neural response to their own infant’s distress cues. Mothers diagnosed with major depressive disorder (n = 11) and comparison mothers with no diagnosable psychopathology (n = 11) were exposed to their own 18-months-old infant’s cry sound, as well as unfamiliar infant’s cry and control sound, during functional neuroimaging. Depressed mothers’ response to own infant cry greater than other sounds was compared to non-depressed mothers’ response in the whole brain [false discovery rate (FDR) corrected]. A continuous measure of self-reported depressive symptoms (CESD) was also tested as a predictor of maternal response. Non-depressed mothers activated to their own infant’s cry greater than control sound in a distributed network of para/limbic and prefrontal regions, whereas depressed mothers as a group failed to show activation. Non-depressed compared to depressed mothers showed significantly greater striatal (caudate, nucleus accumbens) and medial thalamic activation. Additionally, mothers with lower depressive symptoms activated more strongly in left orbitofrontal, dorsal anterior cingulate and medial superior frontal regions. Non-depressed compared to depressed mothers activated uniquely to own infant greater than other infant cry in occipital fusiform areas. Disturbance of these neural networks involved in emotional response and regulation may help to explain parenting deficits in depressed mothers.
depression; fMRI; mother; infant; cry
Origins of mothers’ and fathers’ beliefs about infant crying were examined in 87 couples. Parents completed measures of emotion minimization in the family of origin, depressive symptoms, empathy, trait anger, and coping styles prenatally. At 6 months postpartum, parents completed a self-report measure of their beliefs about infant crying. Mothers endorsed more infant-oriented and less parent-oriented beliefs about crying than did fathers. Consistent with prediction, a history of emotion minimization was linked with more parent-oriented and fewer infant-oriented beliefs about infant crying for both mothers and fathers either as a main effect or in conjunction with the partners’ infant-oriented beliefs. Contrary to expectation, parents’ own emotional dispositions had little effect on parents’ beliefs about crying. The pattern of associations varied for mothers and fathers in a number of ways. Implications for future research and programs promoting sensitive parenting are discussed.
Parental beliefs; infants; crying; family of origin; parental sensitivity
Breath hydrogen excretion as an index of incomplete lactose absorption was measured in 118 healthy infants who were either breast fed or given a formula feed containing lactose, some of whom had colic. Infants with colic (n = 65) were selected on the basis of the mother's report of a history of inconsolable crying lasting several hours each day. Infants in the control group (n = 53) were not reported to cry excessively by their mothers. Breath samples were collected using a face mask sampling device preprandially, and 90 and 150 minutes after the start of a feed. Normalised breath hydrogen concentrations were higher in the group with colic than in the control group at each time point. The median maximum breath hydrogen concentration in the colic group was 29 ppm, and in the control group 11 ppm. The percentage of infants with incomplete lactose absorption (breath hydrogen concentration more than 20 ppm) in the colic group was 62% compared with 32% in the control group. The clinical importance of the observed association between increased breath hydrogen excretion and infantile colic remains to be determined. Increased breath hydrogen excretion indicative of incomplete lactose absorption may be either a cause or an effect of colic in infants.
Neural correlates of stress regulation via the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis have been identified, but little is known about how these apply to real-world interpersonal stress contexts such as mother-infant interaction. We extended stress regulation research by examining maternal neural activation to infant cry related to HPA regulation with their infants.
Twenty-two primiparous mothers listened to their own 18-month infant's cry sound, unfamiliar infant cry, and control sound during fMRI scanning. Salivary cortisol was collected at four timepoints in a separate session involving the Strange Situation stressor. Cortisol trajectories were modeled using hierarchical linear modeling, and trajectory terms were used to predict neural response to own infant cry.
Mothers who showed less HPA reactivity – indexed by trajectory curvature, rather than level – showed increased activation to their infant's cry relative to control sound across limbic/paralimbic and prefrontal circuits. These included periaqueductal gray, right insula, and bilateral orbitofrontal cortex, as well as anterior cingulate-medial prefrontal cortex. Activations overlapped to some extent with previous HPA regulation findings, and converged more extensively with circuits identified in other maternal response paradigms.
Maternal stress regulation involves both circuits found across stressor types (i.e., prefrontal) and areas unique to the mother-infant relationship (i.e., limbic/paralimbic). The shape of mothers' HPA response trajectory was more important than the level of such response in defining stress-related neural correlates. Future research should consider dimensions of the stress context and of physiological trajectories to define stress-regulatory circuits.
maternal response; infant cry; stress; multilevel modeling; HPA; fMRI
AIM: To assess the incidence of infantile colic and its association with variable predictors in infants born in a community maternity hospital, Tehran, Iran.
METHODS: In this prospective cohort study, mothers who gave birth to live newborns between February 21 and March 20, 2003 at the hospital were invited to join to the study. For every infant-mother dyad data were collected on infant gender, type of delivery, gestational age at birth, birth weight, birth order, and mother’s reproductive history. Then mothers were given a diary to document the duration of crying/fussiness behaviors of their infants for the next 12 wk. We scheduled home visits at the time the infants were 3 mo of age to collect the completed diaries and obtain additional information on infants’ nutritional sources and identify if medications were used for colic relief. Cases of colic were identified by applying Wessel criteria to recorded data. Chi-square and Mann-whitney U tests were used to compare proportions for non-parametric and parametric variables, respectively.
RESULTS: From 413 infants, follow-up was completed for 321 infants. In total, 65 infants (20.24%) satisfied the Wessel criteria for infantile colic. No statistical significance was found between colicky and non-colicky infants according to gender, gestational age at birth, birth weight, type of delivery, and, infant’s feeding pattern. However, firstborn infants had higher rate for developing colic (P = 0.03).
CONCLUSION: Colic incidence was 20% in this population of Iranian infants. Except for birth order status, no other variable was significantly associated with infantile colic.
Infantile colic; Incidence; Iran; Risk factors
According to an old Swiss proverb, "a new mother lazing in childbed is a blessing to her family". Today mothers rarely enjoy restful days after birth, but enter directly into the challenge of combining baby- and self-care. They often face a combination of infant crying and personal tiredness. Yet, routine postnatal care often lacks effective strategies to alleviate these challenges which can adversely affect family health. We explored how new mothers experience and handle postnatal infant crying and their own tiredness in the context of changing hospital care practices in Switzerland.
Purposeful sampling was used to enroll 15 mothers of diverse parity and educational backgrounds, all of who had given birth to a full term healthy neonate. Using interpretive phenomenology, we analyzed interview and participant observation data collected during the postnatal hospital stay and at 6 and 12 weeks post birth. This paper reports on the postnatal hospital experience.
Women's personal beliefs about beneficial childcare practices shaped how they cared for their newborn's and their own needs during the early postnatal period in the hospital. These beliefs ranged from an infant-centered approach focused on the infant's development of a basic sense of trust to an approach that balanced the infants' demands with the mother's personal needs. Getting adequate rest was particularly difficult for mothers striving to provide infant-centered care for an unsettled neonate. These mothers suffered from sleep deprivation and severe tiredness unless they were able to leave the baby with health professionals for several hours during the night.
New mothers often need permission to attend to their own needs, as well as practical support with childcare to recover from birth especially when neonates are fussy. To strengthen family health from the earliest stage, postnatal care should establish conditions which enable new mothers to balance the care of their infant with their own needs.
Infants’ effects on adults are a little studied but important aspect of development. What do infants do that increases caregiver responsiveness in childcare environments? Infants’ communicative behaviors (i.e. smiling, crying) affect mothers’ responsiveness; and preschool children’s language abilities affect teachers’ responses in the classroom setting. However, the effects of infants’ intentional communications on either parents’ or non-parental caregivers’ responsiveness have not been examined. Using longitudinal video data from an infant classroom where infant signing was used along with conventional gestures (i.e. pointing), this study examines whether infants’ use of gestures and signs elicited greater responsiveness from caregivers during daily interactions. Controlling child age and individual child effects, infants’ gestures and signs used specifically to respond to caregivers elicited more responsiveness from caregivers during routine interactions. Understanding the effects of infants’ behaviors on caregivers is critical for helping caregivers understand and improve their own behavior towards children in their care.
child effects; caregiver responsiveness; infant signing; gesture; childcare
A range of early circumstances surrounding the birth of a child affects peripartum hormones, parental behavior and infant wellbeing. One of these factors, which may lead to postpartum depression, is the mode of delivery: vaginal delivery (VD) or cesarean section delivery (CSD). To test the hypothesis that CSD mothers would be less responsive to own baby-cry stimuli than VD mothers in the immediate postpartum period, we conducted functional magnetic resonance imaging, 2–4 weeks after delivery, of the brains of six mothers who delivered vaginally and six who had an elective CSD. VD mothers’ brains were significantly more responsive than CSD mothers’ brains to their own baby-cry in the superior and middle temporal gyri, superior frontal gyrus, medial fusiform gyrus, superior parietal lobe, as well as regions of the caudate, thalamus, hypothalamus, amygdala and pons. Also, within preferentially active regions of VD brains, there were correlations across all 12 mothers with out-of-magnet variables. These include correlations between own baby-cry responses in the left and right lenticular nuclei and parental preoccupations (r = .64, p < .05 and .67, p < .05 respectively), as well as in the superior frontal cortex and Beck depression inventory (r = .78, p < .01). First this suggests that VD mothers are more sensitive to own baby-cry than CSD mothers in the early postpartum in sensory processing, empathy, arousal, motivation, reward and habit-regulation circuits. Second, independent of mode of delivery, parental worries and mood are related to specific brain activations in response to own baby-cry.
Parenting; cesarean section; maternal behavior; brain imaging; fMRI; empathy; infant