Mothers with positive childhood experiences respond better to babies' cries

Posted on September 11, 2014

Photo: flickr

Researchers from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and colleagues from Fuller Theological Seminary and Hebrew University of Jerusalem collaborated on the study, which is published in the journal Child Development.

Other recent studies have focused on the importance of parental attentiveness to babies. Medical News Today recently reported on one that suggested how parents react to their infants' babbling could influence their language development.

"Responding sensitively to infant crying is a difficult yet important task," says lead author Prof. Esther M. Leerkes, from the University of North Carolina.

"Some mothers may need help controlling their own distress and interpreting babies' crying as an attempt to communicate need or discomfort," she adds.

In light of this importance, Prof. Leerkes and colleagues wanted to investigate which characteristics differed between mothers who sensitively respond to their babies' cries and mothers who are less sensitive.
Findings show 'universality of mothers' sensitivity to distress'

They followed 259 first-time mothers - who came from a range of racial and socioeconomic backgrounds - from pregnancy until their babies were 6 months of age. Additionally, the mothers completed personality and emotional characteristic questionnaires, and the researchers interviewed them about their childhood experiences with their parents or caregivers.

As the expectant mothers viewed short videos of four crying babies, the team measured their skin conductance - how much sweat was on their skin in response to stress - and heart rate in order to assess their physiological reactions to the crying. Next, the mothers answered questions that revealed how they thought and felt about the crying.

Results showed that the mothers who had experienced depression or who had difficulty controlling their emotions focused on themselves rather than prioritizing the needs of the crying babies.

To read the full article, please click on the link below.


Category(s):Caregiver Issues / Stress, Child and/or Adolescent Issues, Child Development

Source material from Medical News Today


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