Magazine article Science News

Mom-Child Relations Withstand Day Care

Magazine article Science News

Mom-Child Relations Withstand Day Care

Article excerpt

Regular child care provided outside the home or by someone other than the mother does not in itself undermine healthy emotional connections between mothers and their 15-month-old infants, according to a long-term national study. The finding holds even if care begins during the first 3 months after birth and runs for 30 hours or more per week, investigators contend. Among infants who receive insensitive, unresponsive care from their mothers, however, the mother-child relationship takes a hit from low-quality child care, 10 or more hours per week of child care, or several shifts from one nonmaternal arrangement to another.

"This study helps us tease apart complexities regarding child care that have not previously been assessed," contends Jay Belsky, a psychologist at Pennsylvania State University in University Park and one of 25 scientists at 14 universities nationwide involved in the ongoing project. "But the jury is still out on the long-term effects of child care on development." Belsky and several of his colleagues announced their findings last week at the International Conference on Infant Studies in Providence, R.I. The investigation consists of 1,153 children and their families living in or near Boston, Little Rock, Seattle, and seven other locales. The youngsters, no more than 1 month old when they entered the study in 1991, will be tracked until age 7 years.

Experimenters administered questionnaires to mothers in their homes and videotaped them interacting with their kids at ages 1, 6, and 15 months. Independent observers rated the quality of each mother's child care efforts and noted infant irritability and other "difficult" temperamental traits. At 15 months, infants completed a procedure in the laboratory during which their mothers left them alone in a room for a few minutes. Researchers theorize that a "securely attached" infant calms down and reestablishes contact with its mother after a brief separation, while an "insecurely attached" infant either ignores and avoids her or shows no signs of reassurance upon her return. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.