Infant Carrying as a Tool to Promote Secure Attachments in Young Mothers: Comparing Intervention and Control Infants during the Still-Face Paradigm

Lela Rankin Williams, Patricia R. Turner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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Abstract

Infants of adolescent mothers have a greater risk of developing insecure attachment types and attachment disorders into adulthood. Previous research suggests that skin-to-skin contact predicts secure attachment; however, it is largely unknown whether infant carrying or “babywearing” has similar benefits. We hypothesized that adolescent mothers (Mage=19.1 years, SD = 2.0; 40.6% Hispanic; 40%< = 11thgrade) who were randomly assigned to an infant carrying condition at 2-4 weeks’ post-partum (n = 16; 1 hour daily for 3 months), compared to a control group (n = 17; reading), would be more likely to have securely attached infants at 7 months (M = 29.0 weeks, SD = 3.4). We coded infant gaze orientation, fretfulness, affect, self-soothing behaviors, and vocalizations in the reunion phase of the Still-Face Paradigm, and used an algorithm derived from the infant Global Rating Scales to determine attachment type. Infants in the intervention condition were more likely to have secure attachments and less likely to have disorganized attachments compared to the control condition. Hours spent babywearing was positively correlated with secure attachment, rpb = .40, and negatively correlated with disorganized attachment, rpb =-.36. There were no statistically significant differences between the conditions or babywearing hours for avoidant or resistant attachment types. The results suggest that infant carrying may be an effective tool at promoting secure attachments, particularly for mothers and infants at greater risk for attachment insecurity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number101413
JournalInfant Behavior and Development
Volume58
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 2020

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ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology

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