How can Mothers Better Understand their Babies

August 23, 2017

Aimed at bringing more understanding to the relationship between mothers and babies, a recent study suggests the security of the relationship infants establish with their mothers is important for children’s development.
Although most babies establish secure attachment relationships with their mothers, approximately 40% of infants establish insecure attachment relationships, with some developing insecure-avoidant attachments and others developing insecure-resistant attachments.
These infants are at risk of problems later in life. A new study sought to identify factors that predict infants’ avoidance and resistance, looking specifically at how mothers respond physiologically and emotionally to their infants’ distress.
The study is by researchers at the University of Missouri, Columbia; the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill; the University of North Carolina, Greensboro; and The Pennsylvania State University.
Researchers examined mothers’ respiration sinus arrhythmia (RSA), or the variability in their heart rate over the breathing cycle, when they interacted with their distressed babies at 6 months of age. Decreases in RSA when confronted with a challenge, such as a crying baby, reflect better physiological regulation that supports actively coping with the challenge. Researchers also examined how mothers expressed emotion when they interacted with their distressed infants.
Six months later, when the babies were 12 months old, researchers assessed infants’ attachments to their mothers using the Strange Situation procedure, in which infants go through a series of separations and subsequent reunions with their mothers; an infant’s behavior when reunited with his or her mother tells us about the pattern of attachment. Upon being reunited with their mothers, insecure-avoidant infants ignore their mothers, while insecure-resistant infants become very distressed and simultaneously seek and resist their mothers.
Results from this study indicated that mothers who had smaller decreases in RSA – meaning, less physiological regulation – when they interacted with their distressed infants at 6 months were more likely to have avoidant infants at 12 months. Such physiological responding might undermine mothers’ ability to cope with their infants’ distress.
The study appears in the journal Child Development.

Source: ANI

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