Socioemotional Development in Infancy

By Santrock, J.W.

Edited by Paul Ducham


For our purposes, we will define emotion as feeling, or affect, that occurs when a person is in a state or an interaction that is important to him or her, especially to his or her well-being. Especially in infancy, emotions play important roles in (1) communication with others, and (2) behavioral organization. Through emotions, infants communicate important aspects of their lives such as joy, sadness, interest, and fear (Witherington & others, 2010). In terms of behavioral organization, emotions influence infants’ social responses and adaptive behavior as they interact with others in their world (Easterbrooks & others, 2013; Thompson, 2013d).
     Psychologists classify the broad range of emotions in many ways, but almost all classifications designate an emotion as either positive or negative (Izard, 2009). Positive emotions include enthusiasm, joy, and love. Negative emotions include anxiety, anger, guilt, and sadness.


Emotions are influenced both by biological foundations and by a person’s experience (Calkins, 2012; Thompson, 2013c, d; Easterbrooks & others, 2013). Biology’s importance to emotion is apparent in the changes in a baby’s emotional capacities (Kagan, 2010). Certain regions of the brain that develop early in life (such as the brain stem, hippocampus, and amygdala) play a role in distress, excitement, and rage, and even infants display these emotions (de Haan & Matheson, 2009). But, infants only gradually develop the ability to regulate their emotions, and this ability seems tied to the gradual maturation of the frontal regions of the cerebral cortex that can exert control over other areas of the brain (Cuevas & others, 2012; Morasch & Bell, 2012).
    These biological factors, however, are only part of the story of emotion. Emotions serve important functions in our relationships (Duncombe & others, 2012; Slatcher & Trentacosta, 2012). Emotions are the first language with which parents and infants communicate. Emotion-linked interchanges, as when Darius cries and his father sensitively responds, provide the foundation for the infant’s developing attachment to the parent.
     Social relationships, in turn, provide the setting for the development of a rich variety of emotions (Easterbrooks & others, 2013; Th ompson, 2013c, d). When toddlers hear their parents quarreling, they often react with distress and inhibit their play. Wellfunctioning families make each other laugh and may develop a light mood to defuse conflicts. A recent study of 18- to 24-month-olds found that parents’ elicitation of talk about emotions was associated with their toddlers’ sharing and helping (Brownell & others, 2012).
     Biological evolution has endowed human beings to be emotional, but embeddedness in relationships and culture with others provides diversity in emotional experiences (Tamis-LeMonda & Song, 2013; Thompson & Virmani, 2010). For example, researchers have found that East Asian infants display less frequent and less positive and negative emotions than non-Latino White infants (Cole & Tan, 2007). Further, Japanese parents try to prevent their children from experiencing negative emotions, whereas non-Latino White mothers are more likely to respond aft er their children become distressed and then help them cope (Cole & Tan, 2007).


A leading expert on infant emotional development, Michael Lewis (2007, 2008, 2010) distinguishes between primary emotions and selfconscious emotions. Primary emotions are present in humans and other animals; these emotions appear in the first 6 months of the human infant’s development. Primary emotions include surprise, interest, joy, anger, sadness, fear, and disgust (see Figure 6.1 for infants’ facial expressions of some of these early emotions). In Lewis’ classification, self-conscious emotions require self-awareness that involves consciousness and a sense of “me.” Self-conscious emotions include jealousy, empathy, embarrassment, pride, shame, and guilt, most of these occurring for the first time at some point in the second half of the first year through the second year. Some experts on emotion call self-conscious emotions such as embarrassment, shame, guilt, and pride other-conscious emotions because they involve the emotional reactions of others when they are generated (Saarni & others, 2006). For example, approval from parents is linked to toddlers beginning to show pride when they successfully complete a task.
     Researchers such as Joseph Campos (2005) and Michael Lewis (2007) debate how early in the infant and toddler years the emotions that we have described first appear and in what sequence. As an indication of the controversy regarding when certain emotions first are displayed by infants, consider jealousy. Some researchers argue that jealousy does not emerge until approximately 15 to 18 months of age (Lewis, 2007), whereas others emphasize that it is displayed much earlier (Draghi-Lorenz, 2007; Draghi-Lorenz, Reddy, & Costall, 2001). Consider a research study in which 6-month-old infants observed their mothers either giving attention to a life-like baby doll (hugging or gently rocking it, for example) or to a book (Hart & Carrington, 2002). When mothers directed their attention to the doll, the infants were more likely to display negative emotions, such as anger and sadness, which may have indicated their jealousy (see Figure 6.2). On the other hand, their expressions of anger and sadness may have reflected frustration in not being able to have the novel doll to play with. Debate about the onset of an emotion such as jealousy illustrates the complexity and difficulty in indexing early emotions. That said, some experts on infant socioemotional development, such as Jerome Kagan (2010), conclude that the structural immaturity of the infant brain make it unlikely that emotions which require thought—such as guilt, pride, despair, shame, empathy, and jealousy—can be experienced in the first year.

FIG 6.1

FIG 6.2


Emotional expressions are involved in infants’ first relationships. The ability of infants to communicate emotions permits coordinated interactions with their caregivers and the beginning of an emotional bond between them (Easterbrooks & others, 2013; Thompson, 2013b). Not only do parents change their emotional expressions in response to infants’ emotional expressions, but infants also modify their emotional expressions in response to their parents’ emotional expressions (Slatcher & Trentacosta, 2012). In other words, these interactions are mutually regulated. Because of this coordination, the interactions are described as reciprocal, or synchronous, when all is going well. Sensitive, responsive parents help their infants grow emotionally, whether the infants respond in distressed or happy ways (Wilson, Havighurst, & Harley, 2012).
     Cries and smiles are two emotional expressions that infants display when interacting with parents. These are babies’ first forms of emotional communication.
Crying   Crying is the most important mechanism newborns have for communicating with their world. The first cry verifies that the baby’s lungs have filled with air. Cries also may provide information about the health of the newborn’s central nervous system. Newborns even tend to respond with cries and negative facial expressions when they hear other newborns cry (Dondi, Simion, & Caltran, 1999). However, a recent study revealed that newborns of depressed mothers showed less vocal distress when another infant cried, reflecting emotional and physiological dysregulation (Jones, 2012).
     Babies have at least three types of cries:
Basic cry. A rhythmic pattern that usually consists of a cry, followed by a briefer silence, then a shorter whistle that is somewhat higher in pitch than the main cry, then another brief rest before the next cry. Some infancy experts believe that hunger is one of the conditions that incites the basic cry.
Anger cry. A variation of the basic cry in which more excess air is forced through the vocal cords.
Pain cry. A sudden long, initial loud cry followed by breath holding; no preliminary moaning is present. The pain cry is stimulated by a high-intensity stimulus.
     Most adults can determine whether an infant’s cries signify anger or pain (Zeskind, Klein, & Marshall, 1992). Parents can distinguish the cries of their own baby better than those of another baby.
Smiling   Smiling is critical as a means of developing a new social skill and is a key social signal (Witherington & others, 2010). The power of the infant’s smiles was appropriately captured by British theorist John Bowlby (1969): “Can we doubt that the more and better an infant smiles the better he is loved and cared for? It is fortunate for their survival that babies are so designed by nature that they beguile and enslave mothers.” Two types of smiling can be distinguished in infants:
Reflexive smile. A smile that does not occur in response to external stimuli and appears during the first month after birth, usually during sleep.
Social smile. A smile that occurs in response to an external stimulus, typically a face in the case of the young infant. Social smiling occurs as early as 2 months of age.
Fear   One of a baby’s earliest emotions is fear, which typically first appears at about 6 months of age and peaks at about 18 months. However, abused and neglected infants can show fear as early as 3 months (Witherington & others, 2010). Researchers have found that infant fear is linked to guilt, empathy, and low aggression at 6 to 7 years of age (Rothbart, 2007).
     The most frequent expression of an infant’s fear involves stranger anxiety, in which an infant shows a fear and wariness of strangers. Stranger anxiety usually emerges gradually. It first appears at about 6 months of age in the form of wary reactions. By age 9 months, the fear of strangers is oft en more intense, reaching a peak toward the end of the first year of life and then decreasing thereafter (Scher & Harel, 2008).
     Not all infants show distress when they encounter a stranger. Besides individual variations, whether an infant shows stranger anxiety also depends on the social context and the characteristics of the stranger.
    Infants show less stranger anxiety when they are in familiar settings. For example, in one study 10-month-olds showed little stranger anxiety when they met a stranger in their own home but much greater fear when they encountered a stranger in a research laboratory (Sroufe, Waters, & Matas, 1974). Thus, it appears that, when infants feel secure, they are less likely to show stranger anxiety.
     Who the stranger is and how the stranger behaves also influence stranger anxiety in infants. Infants are less fearful of child strangers than adult strangers. They also are less fearful of friendly, outgoing, smiling strangers than of passive, unsmiling strangers (Bretherton, Stolberg, & Kreye, 1981).
     In addition to stranger anxiety, infants experience fear of being separated from their caregivers. The result is separation protest—crying when the caregiver leaves. Separation protest is initially displayed by infants at approximately 7 to 8 months and peaks at about 15 months among U.S. infants (Kagan, 2008). In fact, one study found that separation protest peaked at about 13 to 15 months in four different cultures (Kagan, Kearsley, & Zelazo, 1978). As indicated in Figure 6.3, the percentage of infants who engaged in separation protest varied across cultures, but the infants reached a peak of protest at about the same age—just before the middle of the second year of life.

FIG 6.3


During the first year of life, the infant gradually develops an ability to inhibit, or minimize, the intensity and duration of emotional reactions (Calkins, 2012; Bell & Cuevas, 2012; Morasch & Bell, 2012). From early in infancy, babies put their thumbs in their mouths to soothe themselves. But at first, infants mainly depend on caregivers to help them soothe their emotions, as when a caregiver rocks an infant to sleep, sings lullabyes to the infant, gently strokes the infant, and so on.
     The caregivers’ actions influence the infant’s neurobiological regulation of emotions (Easterbrooks & others, 2013; Thompson, 2013c, d). By soothing the infant, caregivers help infants to modulate their emotion and reduce the level of stress hormones. Many developmentalists stress that it is a good strategy for a caregiver to soothe an infant before the infant gets into an intense, agitated, uncontrolled state (McElwain & Booth-LaForce, 2006).
     Later in infancy, when they become aroused, infants sometimes redirect their attention or distract themselves in order to reduce their arousal. By 2 years of age, toddlers can use language to define their feeling states and the context that is upsetting them. A toddler might say, “Doggy scary.” This type of communication may help caregivers to assist the child in regulating emotion.
    Contexts can influence emotional regulation (Easterbrooks & others, 2013; Thompson, 2011, 2013d). Infants are often affected by fatigue, hunger, time of day, which people are around them, and where they are. Infants must learn to adapt to different contexts that require emotional regulation. Further, new demands appear as the infant becomes older and parents modify their expectations. For example, a parent may take it in stride if a 6-month-old infant screams in a restaurant but may react very differently if a 6-year-old starts screaming.
    To soothe or not to soothe—should a crying baby be given attention and soothed, or does this spoil the infant? Many years ago, the behaviorist John Watson (1928) argued that parents spend too much time responding to infant crying. As a consequence, he said, parents reward crying and increase its incidence. More recently, behaviorist Jacob Gewirtz (1977) found that a caregiver’s quick, soothing response to crying increased crying. In contrast, infancy experts Mary Ainsworth (1979) and John Bowlby (1989) stress that you can’t respond too much to infant crying in the first year of life. They believe that a quick, comforting response to the infant’s cries is an important ingredient in developing a strong bond between the infant and caregiver. In one of Ainsworth’s studies, infants whose mothers responded quickly when they cried at 3 months of age cried less later in the first year of life (Bell & Ainsworth, 1972).
     Controversy still characterizes the question of whether or how parents should respond to an infant’s cries. However, developmentalists increasingly argue that an infant cannot be spoiled in the first year of life, which suggests that parents should soothe a crying infant. Th is reaction should help infants develop a sense of trust and secure attachment to the caregiver. A recent study revealed that mothers’ emotional reactions (anger and anxiety) to crying increased the risk of subsequent attachment insecurity (Leerkes, Parade, & Gudmundson, 2011). And another recent study found that problems in infant soothability at 6 months of age were linked to insecure attachment at 12 months of age (Mills-Koonce, Propper, & Barnette, 2012).


How would you describe your temperament or the temperament of a friend? Researchers have described and classified the temperament of individuals in different ways. Here we will examine three of those ways.
Chess and Thomas’ Classification   Psychiatrists Alexander Chess and Stella Thomas (Chess & Thomas, 1977; Thomas & Chess, 1991) identified three basic types, or clusters, of temperament:
     • An easy child is generally in a positive mood, quickly establishes regular routines in infancy, and adapts easily to new experiences.
     • A difficult child reacts negatively and cries frequently, engages in irregular daily routines, and is slow to accept change.
     • A slow-to-warm-up child has a low activity level, is somewhat negative, and displays a low intensity of mood.
     In their longitudinal investigation, Chess and Thomas found that 40 percent of the children they studied could be classified as easy, 10 percent as difficult, and 15 percent as slow to warm up. Notice that 35 percent did not fit any of the three patterns. Researchers have found that these three basic clusters of temperament are moderately stable across the childhood years.
Kagan’s Behavioral Inhibition    Another way of classifying temperament focuses on the differences between a shy, subdued, timid child and a sociable, extraverted, bold child. Jerome Kagan (2002, 2008, 2010, 2013) regards shyness with strangers (peers or adults) as one feature of a broad temperament category called inhibition to the unfamiliar. Inhibited children react to many aspects of unfamiliarity with initial avoidance, distress, or subdued affect, beginning about 7 to 9 months of age.
     Kagan has found that inhibition shows considerable stability from infancy through early childhood. One study classified toddlers into extremely inhibited, extremely uninhibited, and intermediate groups (Pfeifer & others, 2002). Followup assessments occurred at 4 and 7 years of age. Continuity was demonstrated for both inhibition and lack of inhibition, although a substantial number of the inhibited children moved into the intermediate groups at 7 years of age. One study revealed that behavioral inhibition at 3 years of age was linked to shyness four years later (Volbrecht & Goldsmith, 2010). Another study found that 24-month-olds who were fearful in situations relatively low in threat were likely to experience higher than average anxiety levels in kindergarten (Buss, 2011). And in another study, shyness/inhibition in infancy/childhood was linked to social anxiety at 21 years of age (Bohlin & Hagekull, 2009).
Rothbart and Bates’ Classification   New classifications of temperament continue to be forged. Mary Rothbart and John Bates (2006) argue that three broad dimensions best represent what researchers have found to characterize the structure of temperament: extraversion/ surgency, negative affectivity, and effortful control (self-regulation):
     • Extraversion/surgency includes “positive anticipation, impulsivity, activity level, and sensation seeking” (Rothbart, 2004, p. 495). Kagan’s uninhibited children fit into this category.
      • Negative affectivity includes “fear, frustration, sadness, and discomfort” (Rothbart, 2004, p. 495). These children are easily distressed; they may fret and cry oft en. Kagan’s inhibited children fit this category.
     • Effortful control (self-regulation) includes “attentional focusing and shifting, inhibitory control, perceptual sensitivity, and low-intensity pleasure” (Rothbart, 2004, p. 495). Infants who are high on effortful control show an ability to keep their arousal from getting too high and have strategies for soothing themselves. By contrast, children low on effortful control are often unable to control their arousal; they become easily agitated and intensely emotional.
     In Rothbart’s (2004, p. 497) view, “early theoretical models of temperament stressed the way we are moved by our positive and negative emotions or level of arousal, with our actions driven by these tendencies.” The more recent focus on effortful control, however, emphasizes that individuals can engage in a more cognitive, flexible approach to stressful circumstances.
     An important point about temperament classifications such as those of Chess and Thomas or Rothbart and Bates is that children should not be pigeonholed as having only one temperament dimension, such as “difficult” or “negative affectivity.” A good strategy when attempting to classify a child’s temperament is to think of temperament as consisting of multiple dimensions (Bates, 2012a, b). For example, a child might be extraverted, show little emotional negativity, and have good self-regulation. Another child might be introverted, show little emotional negativity, and have a low level of self-regulation.
     The development of temperament capabilities such as effortful control allows individual differences to emerge. For example, although maturation of the brain’s prefrontal lobes must occur for any child’s attention to improve and the child to achieve effortful control, some children develop effortful control while others do not. And it is these individual differences in children that are at the heart of what temperament is (Bates, 2012a, b).


How does a child acquire a certain temperament? Kagan (2002, 2010, 2013) argues that children inherit a physiology that biases them to have a particular type of temperament. However, through experience they may learn to modify their temperament to some degree. For example, children may inherit a physiology that biases them to be fearful and inhibited, but they can learn to reduce their fear and inhibition to some degree.
Biological Influences    Physiological characteristics have been linked with different temperaments (Bates, 2012a, b; Frodl & O’Keane, 2012; Kagan, 2013; Mize & Jones, 2012). In particular, an inhibited temperament is associated with a unique physiological pattern that includes high and stable heart rate, high level of the hormone cortisol, and high activity in the right frontal lobe of the brain (Kagan, 2008, 2010). This pattern may be tied to the excitability of the amygdala, a structure of the brain that plays an important role in fear and inhibition.
     What is heredity’s role in the biological foundations of temperament? Twin and adoption studies suggest that heredity has a moderate influence on differences in temperament within a group of people (Plomin & others, 2009). The contemporary view is that temperament is a biologically based but evolving aspect of behavior; it evolves as the child’s experiences are incorporated into a network of self-perceptions and behavioral preferences that characterize the child’s personality (Thompson, Winer, & Goodvin, 2011).
     Too often the biological foundations of temperament are interpreted to mean that temperament cannot develop or change. However, important self-regulatory dimensions of temperament such as adaptability, soothability, and persistence look very different in a 1-year-old and a 5-year-old (Easterbrooks & others, 2013). These temperament dimensions develop and change with the growth of the neurobiological foundations of self-regulation.
Gender, Culture, and Temperament   Gender may be an important factor shaping the environmental context that influences temperament (Gaias & others, 2012). Parents might react differently to an infant’s temperament depending on whether the baby is a boy or a girl. For example, in one study, mothers were more responsive to the crying of irritable girls than to the crying of irritable boys (Crockenberg, 1986).
     Similarly, the caregiver’s reaction to an infant’s temperament may depend in part on culture (Chen & others, 2011; Rothbart, 2011). For example, behavioral inhibition is more highly valued in China than in North America, and researchers have found that Chinese children are more inhibited than Canadian infants are (Chen & others, 1998). The cultural differences in temperament were linked to parent attitude and behaviors. Canadian mothers of inhibited 2-year-olds were less accepting of their infants’ inhibited temperament, whereas Chinese mothers were more accepting. Also, a recent study revealed that U.S infants showed more temperamental fearfulness while Finnish infants engaged in more positive affect, such as effortful control (Gaias & others, 2012).
     In short, many aspects of a child’s environment can encourage or discourage the persistence of temperament characteristics (Bates, 2012a, b; Rothbart, 2011). One useful way of thinking about these relationships applies the concept of goodness of fit, which we examine next.


Goodness of fit refers to the match between a child’s temperament and the environmental demands the child must cope with. Suppose Jason is an active toddler who is made to sit still for long periods of time, and Jack is a slowto-warm-up toddler who is abruptly pushed into new situations on a regular basis. Both Jason and Jack face a lack of fit between their temperament and environmental demands. Lack of fit can produce adjustment problems (Rothbart, 2011).
     Some temperament characteristics pose more parenting challenges than others, at least in modern Western societies (Rothbart, 2011). When children are prone to distress, as exhibited by frequent crying and irritability, their parents may eventually respond by ignoring the child’s distress or trying to force the child to “behave.” In one research study, though, extra support and training for mothers of distress-prone infants improved the quality of mother-infant interaction (van den Boom, 1989). The training led the mothers to alter their demands on the child, improving the fit between the child and the environment. Researchers also have found that decreases in infants’ negative emotionality are linked to higher levels of parental sensitivity, involvement, and responsiveness (Bates, 2012a, b; Penela & others, 2012; Wachs & Bates, 2010).


According to Erik Erikson (1968), the first year of life is characterized by the trustversus-mistrust stage of development. Following a life of regularity, warmth, and protection in the mother’s womb, the infant faces a world that is less secure. Erikson proposed that infants learn trust when they are cared for in a consistent, warm manner. If the infant is not well fed and kept warm on a consistent basis, a sense of mistrust is likely to develop.
     Trust versus mistrust is not resolved once and for all in the first year of life. It arises again at each successive stage of development, which can have positive or negative outcomes. For example, children who leave infancy with a sense of trust can still have their sense of mistrust activated at a later stage, perhaps if their parents are separated or divorced under conflictual circumstances.


When does the individual begin to sense a separate existence from others? Studying the self in infancy is difficult mainly because infants cannot verbally express their thoughts and impressions. They also cannot understand complex instructions from researchers.
      One ingenious strategy to test infants’ visual self-recognition is the use of a mirror technique, in which an infant’s mother first puts a dot of rouge on the infant’s nose. Then an observer watches to see how oft en the infant touches its nose. Next, the infant is placed in front of a mirror, and observers detect whether nose touching increases. Why does this matter? The idea is that increased nose touching indicates that the infant recognizes the self in the mirror and is trying to touch or rub off the rouge because the rouge violates the infant’s view of the self. Increased touching indicates that the infant realizes that it is the self in the mirror but that something is not right since the real self does not have a dot of rouge on it.
     Figure 6.4 displays the results of two investigations that used the mirror technique. The researchers found that before they were 1 year old, infants did not recognize themselves in the mirror (Amsterdam, 1968; Lewis & Brooks-Gunn, 1979). Signs of self-recognition began to appear among some infants when they were 15 to 18 months old. By the time they were 2 years old, most children recognized themselves in the mirror. In sum, infants begin to develop a self-understanding called self-recognition at approximately 18 months of age (Hart & Karmel, 1996; Lewis, 2005).
     However, mirrors are not familiar to infants in all cultures (Rogoff, 2003). Th us, physical self-recognition may be a more important marker of self-recognition in Western than non–Western cultures (Thompson & Virmani, 2010). Supporting this cultural variation view, one study revealed that 18- to 20-month-old toddlers from urban middle SES German families were more likely to recognize their mirror images than were toddlers from rural Cameroon farming families (Keller & others, 2005).
      Late in the second year and early in the third year, toddlers show other emerging forms of self-awareness that reflect a sense of “me” (Thompson, Winer, & Goodvin, 2011). For example, they refer to themselves such as by saying “me big”; they label their internal experiences such as emotions; they monitor themselves, as when a toddler says, “do it myself ”; and they declare that things are theirs (Bates, 1990; Fasig, 2000).

fig 6.4


Erik Erikson (1968) stressed that independence is an important issue in the second year of life. Erikson describes the second stage of development as the stage of autonomy versus shame and doubt. Autonomy builds as the infant’s mental and motor abilities develop. At this point in development, not only can infants walk, but they can also climb, open and close, drop, push and pull, and hold and let go. Infants feel pride in these new accomplishments and want to do everything themselves, whether the activity is flushing a toilet, pulling the wrapping off a package, or deciding what to eat. It is important for parents to recognize the motivation of toddlers to do what they are capable of doing at their own pace. Then they can learn to control their muscles and their impulses themselves. But when caregivers are impatient and do for toddlers what they are capable of doing themselves, shame and doubt develop. Every parent has rushed a child from time to time. It is only when parents consistently overprotect toddlers or criticize accidents (wetting, soiling, spilling, or breaking, for example) that children develop an excessive sense of shame and doubt about their ability to control themselves and their world. Erikson emphasized that the stage of autonomy versus shame and doubt has important implications for the individual’s future development.


From early in their development, infants are captivated by the social world. Young infants stare intently at faces and are attuned to the sounds of human voices, especially their caregiver’s (Gaither, Pauker, & Johnson, 2012; Lowe & others, 2012). Later, they become adept at interpreting the meaning of facial expressions.
     Face-to-face play oft en begins to characterize caregiver-infant interactions when the infant is about 2 to 3 months of age. The focused social interaction of face-to-face play may include vocalizations, touch, and gestures (Leppanen & others, 2007). Such play is part of many mothers’ motivation to create a positive emotional state in their infants (Thompson, 2013c, d).
     In part because of such positive social interchanges between caregivers and infants, by 2 to 3 months of age, infants respond in different ways to people and objects, showing more positive emotion to people than to inanimate objects such as puppets (Legerstee, 1997). At this age, most infants expect people to react positively when the infants initiate a behavior, such as a smile or a vocalization. Th is finding has been discovered using a method called the still-face paradigm, in which the caregiver alternates between engaging in face-to-face interaction with the infant and remaining still and unresponsive (Bigelow & Power, 2012). As early as 2 to 3 months of age, infants show more withdrawal, negative emotions, and self-directed behavior when their caregivers are still and unresponsive (Adamson & Frick, 2003). The frequency of face-to-face play decreases aft er 7 months of age as infants become more mobile (Th ompson, 2006). A meta-analysis revealed that infants’ higher positive affect and lower negative affect as displayed during the still-face paradigm were linked to secure attachment at one year of age (Mesman, van IJzendoorn, & Bakersman-Kranenburg, 2009).
      Infants also learn about the social world through contexts other than face-to-face play with a caregiver (Thompson, 2013b). Even though infants as young as 6 months of age show an interest in each other, their interaction with peers increases considerably in the last half of the second year. Between 18 and 24 months of age, children markedly increase their imitative and reciprocal play, such as imitating nonverbal actions like jumping and running (Eckerman & Whitehead, 1999). One study involved presenting 1- and 2-yearolds with a simple cooperative task that consisted of pulling a lever to get an attractive toy (Brownell, Ramani, & Zerwas, 2006) (see Figure 6.5). Any coordinated actions of the 1-year-olds appeared to be more coincidental rather than cooperative, whereas the 2-year-olds’ behavior was characterized as more active cooperation to reach a goal.

fig 6.5


The growing importance of independence for infants, especially in the second year of life. As infants develop the ability to crawl, walk, and run, they are able to explore and expand their social world. These newly developed, self-produced locomotion skills allow the infant to independently initiate social interchanges on a more frequent basis (Laible & Thompson, 2007). The development of these gross motor skills results from factors such as the development of the nervous system, the goal the infant is motivated to reach, and environmental support for the skill (Adolph & Berger, 2013; Adolph & Robinson, 2013).
      The infant’s and toddler’s push for independence also is likely paced by the development of locomotion skills. Of further importance is locomotion’s motivational implications. Once infants have the ability to move in goal-directed pursuits, the reward from these pursuits leads to further efforts to explore and develop skills.


Perceiving people as engaging in intentional and goal-directed behavior is an important social cognitive accomplishment, and this initially occurs toward the end of the first year (Thompson, 2010). Joint attention and gaze-following help the infant to understand that other people have intentions (Bedford & others, 2012; Tomasello & Hamann, 2012). joint attention occurs when the caregiver and infant focus on the same object or event. We indicated that emerging aspects of joint attention occur at about 7 to 8 months, but at about 10 to 11 months of age joint attention intensifies and infants begin to follow the caregiver’s gaze. By their first birthday, infants have begun to direct the caregiver’s attention to objects that capture their interest (Heimann & others, 2006).


Another important social cognitive accomplishment in infancy is developing the ability to “read” the emotions of other people (Cornew & others, 2012). Social referencing is the term used to describe “reading” emotional cues in others to help determine how to act in a particular situation. The development of social referencing helps infants to interpret ambiguous situations more accurately, as when they encounter a stranger and need to know whether to fear the person (Pelaez, Virues-Ortega, & Gewirtz, 2012). By the end of the first year, a mother’s facial expression—either smiling or fearful—influences whether an infant will explore an unfamiliar environment.
     Infants become better at social referencing in the second year of life. At this age, they tend to “check” with their mother before they act; they look at her to see if she is happy, angry, or fearful. For example, in one study 14- to 22-month-old infants were more likely to look at their mother’s face as a source of information for how to act in a situation than were 6- to 9-month-old infants (Walden, 1991).


In sum, researchers are discovering that infants are more socially sophisticated and insightful at younger ages than was previously envisioned (Thompson, 2013c, d). This sophistication and insight is reflected in infants’ perceptions of others’ actions as intentionally motivated and goal-directed and their motivation to share and participate in that intentionality by their first birthday. The more advanced social cognitive skills of infants likely influence their understanding and awareness of attachment to a caregiver.


Attachment is a close emotional bond between two people. There is no shortage of theories about infant attachment. Three theorists Freud, Erikson, and Bowlby—proposed influential views.
     Freud emphasized that infants become attached to the person or object that provides oral satisfaction. For most infants, this is the mother, since she is most likely to feed the infant. Is feeding as important as Freud thought? A classic study by Harry Harlow (1958) reveals that the answer is no (see Figure 6.6).
     Harlow removed infant monkeys from their mothers at birth; for six months they were reared by surrogate (substitute) “mothers.” One surrogate mother was made of wire, the other of cloth. Half of the infant monkeys were fed by the wire mother, half by the cloth mother. Periodically, the amount of time the infant monkeys spent with either the wire or the cloth mother was computed. Regardless of which mother fed them, the infant monkeys spent far more time with the cloth mother. Even if the wire mother, but not the cloth mother, provided nourishment, the infant monkeys spent more time with the cloth mother. And when Harlow frightened the monkeys, those “raised” by the cloth mother ran to the mother and clung to it; those raised by the wire mother did not. Whether the mother provided comfort seemed to determine whether the monkeys associated the mother with security. This study clearly demonstrated that feeding is not the crucial element in the attachment process and that contact comfort is important. Physical comfort also plays a role in Erik Erikson’s (1968) view of the infant’s development. Recall Erikson’s proposal that the first year of life represents the stage of trust versus mistrust.
     Physical comfort and sensitive care, according to Erikson (1968), are key to establishing a basic trust in infants. The infant’s sense of trust, in turn, is the foundation for attachment and sets the stage for a lifelong expectation that the world will be a good and pleasant place to be.
     The ethological perspective of British psychiatrist John Bowlby (1969, 1989) also stresses the importance of attachment in the first year of life and the responsiveness of the caregiver. Bowlby maintains both infants and their primary caregivers are biologically predisposed to form attachments. He argues that the newborn is biologically equipped to elicit attachment behavior. The baby cries, clings, coos, and smiles. Later, the infant crawls, walks, and follows the mother. The immediate result is to keep the primary caregiver nearby; the long-term effect is to increase the infant’s chances of survival.
      Attachment does not emerge suddenly but rather develops in a series of phases, moving from a baby’s general preference for human beings to a partnership with primary caregivers. Following are four such phases based on Bowlby’s conceptualization of attachment (Schaffer, 1996):
     • Phase 1: From birth to 2 months. Infants instinctively direct their attachment to human figures. Strangers, siblings, and parents are equally likely to elicit smiling or crying from the infant.
     • Phase 2: From 2 to 7 months. Attachment becomes focused on one figure, usually the primary caregiver, as the baby gradually learns to distinguish familiar from unfamiliar people.
      • Phase 3: From 7 to 24 months. Specific attachments develop. With increased locomotor skills, babies actively seek contact with regular caregivers, such as the mother or father.
      • Phase 4: From 24 months on. Children become aware of others’ feelings, goals, and plans and begin to take these into account in forming their own actions.
     Bowlby argued that infants develop an internal working model of attachment, a simple mental model of the caregiver, their relationship, and the self as deserving of nurturant care. The infant’s internal working model of attachment with the caregiver influences the infant’s and later the child’s subsequent responses to other people (Roisman & Groh, 2011). The internal model of attachment also has played a pivotal role in the discovery of links between attachment and subsequent emotional understanding, conscience development, and self-concept (Thompson, 2012).

fig 6.6


Does the Strange Situation capture important differences among infants? As a measure of attachment, it may be culturally biased. For example, German and Japanese babies often show patterns of attachment different from those of American infants. As illustrated in Figure 6.7, German infants are more likely to show an avoidant attachment pattern and Japanese infants are less likely to display this pattern than U.S. infants (van IJzendoorn & Kroonenberg, 1988). The avoidant pattern in German babies likely occurs because their caregivers encourage them to be independent (Grossmann & others, 1985). Also as shown in Figure 6.7, Japanese babies are more likely than American babies to be categorized as resistant. This may have more to do with the Strange Situation as a measure of attachment than with attachment insecurity itself. Japanese mothers rarely let anyone unfamiliar with their babies care for them. Thus, the Strange Situation might create considerably more stress for Japanese infants than for American infants, who are more accustomed to separation from their mothers (Miyake, Chen, & Campos, 1985). Even though there are cultural variations in attachment classification, the most frequent classification in every culture studied so far is secure attachment (Thompson, 2006; Jin & others, 2012; van IJzendoorn & Kroonenberg, 1988).

fig 6.7


Do individual differences in attachment matter? Ainsworth argues that secure attachment in the first year of life provides an important foundation for psychological development later in life. The securely attached infant moves freely away from the mother but keeps track of where picked up by others, and when put back down, freely moves away to play. An insecurely attached infant, by contrast, avoids the mother or is ambivalent toward her, fears strangers, and is upset by minor, everyday separations.
      If early attachment to a caregiver is important, it should be linked to a child’s social behavior later in development. For some children, early attachments seem to foreshadow later functioning (Bretherton, 2012; Brisch, 2012; Kok & others, 2012). Consider the following studies:
      • In the extensive longitudinal study conducted by Alan Sroufe and his colleagues (2005), early secure attachment (assessed by the Strange Situation at 12 and 18 months) was linked with positive emotional health, high self-esteem, self-confidence, and socially competent interaction with peers, teachers, camp counselors, and romantic partners through adolescence.
      • Being classified as insecure resistant in infancy was a negative predictor of cognitive development in elementary school (O’Connor & McCartney, 2007).
      • Yet another study found that attachment security at 24 and 36 months was linked to the child’s enhanced social problem-solving skills at 54 months (Raikes & Thompson, 2009).
      An important issue regarding attachment is whether infancy is a critical or sensitive period for development. The three studies just described show continuity, with secure attachment in infancy predicting subsequent positive development in childhood and adolescence. For some children, though, there is little continuity. Not all research reveals the power of infant attachment to predict subsequent development (Roisman & Groh, 2011; Th ompson, 2013a). In one longitudinal study, attachment classification in infancy did not predict attachment classification at 18 years of age (Lewis, Feiring, & Rosenthal, 2000). In this study, the best predictor of an insecure attachment classification at 18 was the occurrence of parental divorce in the intervening years. Consistently positive caregiving over a number of years is likely an important factor in connecting early attachment with the child’s functioning later in development. Indeed, researchers have found that early secure attachment and subsequent experiences, especially maternal care and life stresses, are linked with children’s later behavior and adjustment (Th ompson, 2013a). For example, a longitudinal study revealed that changes in attachment security/insecurity from infancy to adulthood were linked to stresses and supports in socioemotional contexts (Van Ryzin, Carlson, & Sroufe, 2011). These results suggest that attachment continuity may be a reflection of stable social contexts as much as early working models. The study just described (Van Ryzin, Carlson, & Sroufe, 2011) reflects an increasingly accepted view of the development of attachment and its influence on development. That is, it is important to recognize that attachment security in infancy does not always by itself produce long-term positive outcomes, but rather is linked to later outcomes through connections with the way children and adolescents subsequently experience various social contexts as they develop.
     The Van Ryzin, Carlson, and Sroufe (2011) study reflects a developmental cascade model, which involves connections across domains over time that influence developmental pathways and outcomes (Cicchetti, 2013; Masten, 2013). Developmental cascades can include connections between a wide range of biological, cognitive, and socioemotional processes (attachment, for example), and also can involve social contexts such as families, peers, schools, and culture. Further, links can produce positive or negative outcomes at different points in development, such as infancy, early childhood, middle and late childhood, adolescence, and adulthood.
      In addition to challenging whether secure attachment in infancy serves as a critical or sensitive period, some developmentalists argue that the secure attachment concept does not adequately consider certain biological factors in development, such as genes and temperament. For example, Jerome Kagan (1987, 2002) points out that infants are highly resilient and adaptive; he argues that they are evolutionarily equipped to stay on a positive developmental course, even in the face of wide variations in parenting. Kagan and others stress that genetic characteristics and temperament play more important roles in a child’s social competence than the attachment theorists, such as Bowlby and Ainsworth, are willing to acknowledge (Bakermans-Kranenburg & van IJzendoorn, 2011). For example, if some infants inherit a low tolerance for stress, this, rather than an insecure attachment bond, may be responsible for an inability to get along with peers. One study found links between disorganized attachment in infancy, a specific gene, and levels of maternal responsiveness (Spangler & others, 2009). In this study, infants with the short version of the gene—serotonin transporter gene, 5-HTTLPR—developed a disorganized attachment style only when mothers were slow in responding to them.
     A third criticism of attachment theory (in addition to the critical/sensitive period issue and inadequate attention to biological-based factors) is that it ignores the diversity of socializing agents and contexts that exists in an infant’s world. A culture’s value system can influence the nature of attachment. In some cultures, infants show attachments to many people. Among the Hausa (who live in Nigeria), both grandmothers and siblings provide a significant amount of care for infants (Harkness & Super, 1995). Infants in agricultural societies tend to form attachments to older siblings, who are assigned a major responsibility for younger siblings’ care. Researchers recognize the importance of competent, nurturant caregivers in an infant’s development (Grusec, 2011b; Roisman & Groh, 2011); at issue, though, is whether or not secure attachment, especially to a single caregiver, is critical (Lamb, 2010; Thompson, 2013a).
     Despite such criticisms, there is ample evidence that secure attachment is important in development (Thompson, 2013a; Sroufe, Coffino, & Carlson, 2010). Is secure attachment the sole predictor of positive developmental outcomes for infants? No, and neither is any other single factor, but secure attachment in infancy is important because it reflects a positive parentinfant relationship and provides the foundation that supports healthy socioemotional development in the years that follow.


Is the style of caregiving linked with the quality of the infant’s attachment? Securely attached babies have caregivers who are sensitive to their signals and are consistently available to respond to their infants’ needs (Bigelow & others, 2010; Jin & others, 2012). These caregivers often let their babies have an active part in determining the onset and pacing of interaction in the first year of life. One study revealed that maternal sensitive responding was linked to infant attachment security (Finger & others, 2009). Another study found that maternal sensitivity—but not infants’ temperament—when infants were 6 months old was linked to subsequent attachment security (Leerkes, 2011).
      How do the caregivers of insecurely attached babies interact with them? Caregivers of avoidant babies tend to be unavailable or rejecting (Posada & Kaloustian, 2010). They often don’t respond to their babies’ signals and have little physical contact with them. When they do interact with their babies, they may behave in an angry and irritable way. Caregivers of resistant babies tend to be inconsistent; sometimes they respond to their babies’ needs and sometimes they don’t. In general, they tend not to be very affectionate with their babies and show little synchrony when interacting with them. Caregivers of disorganized babies often neglect or physically abuse them (Bernard & others, 2012; Bohlin & others, 2012; Groh & others, 2012). In some cases, these caregivers are depressed.


we have described the emerging field of developmental social neuroscience that examines connections between socioemotional processes, development, and the brain (Pfeifer & Blakemore, 2012; Singer, 2012). Attachment is one of the main areas in which theory and research on developmental social neuroscience has focused. These connections of attachment and the brain involve the neuroanatomy of the brain, neurotransmitters, and hormones.
     Theory and research on the role of the brain’s regions in motherinfant attachment is just emerging (De Haan & Gunnar, 2009; Parsons & others, 2010). One theoretical view proposed that the prefrontal cortex likely has an important role in maternal attachment behavior, as do the subcortical (areas of the brain lower than the cortex) regions of the amygdala (which is strongly involved in emotion) and the hypothalamus (Gonzalez, Atkinson, & Fleming, 2009).
      Research on the role of hormones and neurotransmitters in attachment has emphasized the importance of two neuropeptide hormones—oxytocin and vasopressin—in the formation of the maternal-infant bond (Strathearn & others, 2012; Bisceglia & others, 2012). Oxytocin, a mammalian hormone that also acts as a neurotransmitter in the brain, is released during breast feeding and by contact and warmth (Ebstein & others, 2012). Oxytocin is especially thought to be a likely candidate in the formation of infant-mother attachment (Feldman, 2012; Nagasawa & others, 2012). A recent research review indicated strong links between levels or patterns of oxytocin and aspects of mother-infant attachment (Galbally & others, 2011). The influence of these neuropeptides on the neurotransmitter dopamine in the nucleus accumbens (a collection of neurons in the forebrain that are involved in pleasure) likely is important in motivating approach to the attachment object (de Haan & Gunnar, 2009). Figure 6.8 shows the regions of the brain we have described that have been proposed as important in infant-mother attachment.

fig 6.8


When people become parents through pregnancy, adoption, or stepparenting, they face disequilibrium and must adapt. Parents want to develop a strong attachment with their infant, but they still want to maintain strong attachments to their spouse and friends, and possibly continue their careers. Parents ask themselves how this new being will change their lives. A baby places new restrictions on partners; no longer will they be able to rush out to a movie on a moment’s notice, and money may not be readily available for vacations and other luxuries. Dual-career parents ask, “Will it harm the baby to place her in child care? Will we be able to find responsible babysitters?”
     In a longitudinal investigation of couples from late pregnancy until 3½ years aft er the baby was born, couples enjoyed more positive marital relations before the baby was born than after (Cowan & Cowan, 2000; Cowan & others, 2005). Still, almost one-third showed an increase in marital satisfaction. Some couples said that the baby had both brought them closer together and moved them farther apart; being parents enhanced their sense of themselves and also gave them a new, more stable identity as a couple. Babies opened men up to a concern with intimate relationships, and the demands of juggling work and family roles stimulated women to manage family tasks more efficiently and to pay attention to their own personal growth.
     Other recent studies have explored the transition to parenthood (Brown, Feinberg, & Kan, 2012; Menendez & others, 2011). One study found similar negative change in relationship satisfaction for married and cohabiting women during the transition to parenthood (Mortensen & others, 2012). Another study revealed that mothers experienced unmet expectations in the transition to parenting, with fathers doing less than they had anticipated (Biehle & Mickelson, 2012).
     The Bringing Home Baby project is a workshop that helps new parents to strengthen their relationship, understand and become acquainted with their baby, resolve conflict, and develop parenting skills (Gottman, 2012). Evaluations of the project revealed that parents who participated improved their ability to work together as parents; fathers became more involved with their baby and sensitive to the baby’s behavior; mothers had a lower incidence of postpartum depression symptoms; and babies showed better overall development than infants whose parents were part of a control group (Gottman, Shapiro, & Parthemer, 2004; Shapiro & Gottman, 2005).


The mutual influence that parents and children exert on each other goes beyond specific interactions in games such as peek-a-boo; it extends to the whole process of socialization (Manongdo & Garcia, 2011). Socialization between parents and children is not a one-way process. Parents do socialize children, but socialization in families is reciprocal (Grusec, 2011; Parke & Clarke-Stewart, 2011). Reciprocal socialization is socialization that is bidirectional; children socialize parents just as parents socialize children. These reciprocal interchanges and mutual influence processes are sometimes referred to as transactional (Sameroff, 2009, 2012).
     When reciprocal socialization has been studied in infancy, mutual gaze or eye contact plays an important role in early social interaction (Stern, 2010). In one investigation, the mother and infant engaged in a variety of behaviors while they looked at each other (Stern & others, 1977). By contrast, when they looked away from each other, the rate of such behaviors dropped considerably. In sum, the behaviors of mothers and infants involve substantial interconnection, mutual regulation, and synchronization (Laurent, Ablow, & Measelle, 2012; Tronick, 2010). One study revealed that parent-infant synchrony—the temporal coordination of social behavior—played an important role in children’s development (Feldman, 2007). In this study, parent-infant synchrony at 3 and 9 months of age were positively linked to children’s self-regulation from 2 to 6 years of age.
      An important form of reciprocal socialization is scaffolding, in which parents time interactions in such a way that the infant experiences turn taking with the parents. Scaffolding involves parental behavior that supports children’s efforts, allowing them to be more skillful than they would be if they had to rely only on their own abilities (Bigelow & others, 2010). In using scaffolding, caregivers provide a positive, reciprocal framework in which they and their children interact. For example, in the game peek-a-boo, the mother initially covers the baby. Then she removes the cover and registers “surprise” at the infant’s reappearance. As infants become more skilled at peek-a-boo, pat-a-cake, and so on, there are other caregiver games that exemplify scaffolding and turn-taking sequences. Engaging in turn taking and games like peek-a-boo reflect the development of joint attention by the caregiver and infant (Melzi, Schick, & Kennedy, 2011).


In addition to sensitive parenting that involves warmth and caring that can help babies become securely attached to their parents, other important aspects of parenting infants involve managing and guiding their behavior in an attempt to reduce or eliminate undesirable behaviors (Holden, Vittrup, & Rosen, 2011). This management process includes (1) being proactive and childproofing the environment so infants won’t encounter potentially dangerous objects or situations, and (2) engaging in corrective methods when infants engage in undesirable behaviors such as excessive fussing and crying, throwing objects, and so on.
      One study assessed results of discipline and corrective methods that parents had used by the time infants were 12 and 24 months old (Vittrup, Holden, & Buck, 2006). As indicated in Figure 6.10, the main method parents used by the time infants were 12 months old was diverting the infants’ attention, followed by reasoning, ignoring, and negotiating. Also note in Figure 6.10 that more than one-third of parents had yelled at their infant, about one-fifth had slapped the infant’s hands or threatened the infant, and approximately one-sixth had spanked the infant before his or her first birthday.
      As infants move into the second year of life and become more mobile and capable of exploring a wider range of environments, parental management of the toddler’s behavior often triggers even more corrective feedback and discipline (Holden, Vittrup, & Rosen, 2011). As indicated in Figure 6.10, in the study just described, yelling increased from 36 percent at 1 year of age to 81 percent at 2 years of age, slapping the infant’s hands increased from 21 percent at 1 year to 31 percent at age 2, and spanking increased from 14 per cent at 1 year to 45 percent at age 2 (Vittrup, Holden, & Buck, 2006).
     A special concern is that such corrective discipline tactics not become abusive. Too often what starts out as mild to moderately intense discipline on the part of parents can move into highly intense anger.

fig 6.10


An increasing number of U.S. fathers stay home full-time with their children (Lamb, 2010). As indicated in Figure 6.11, there was a 300-plus percent increase in stay-at-home fathers in the United States from 1996 to 2006. A large portion of the full-time fathers have career-focused wives who provide most of the family income. One study revealed that the stay-athome fathers were as satisfied with their marriage as traditional parents, although they indicated that they missed their daily life in the workplace (Rochlen & others, 2008). In this study, the stay-at-home fathers reported that they tended to be ostracized when they took their children to playgrounds and oft en were excluded from parent groups.
     Can fathers take care of infants as competently as mothers can? Observations of fathers and their infants suggest that fathers have the ability to act as sensitively and responsively as mothers with their infants (Lamb, 2010). Consider the Aka pygmy culture in Africa where fathers spend as much time interacting with their infants as do their mothers (Hewlett, 1991, 2000; Hewlett & MacFarlan, 2010). A recent study also found that marital intimacy and partner support during prenatal development were linked to father-infant attachment following childbirth (Yu & others, 2012). And another recent study revealed that fathers with a college-level education engaged in more stimulating physical activities with their infants and that fathers in a conflicting couple relationship participated in less caregiving and physical play with their infants (Cabrera, Hofferth, & Chae, 2011).
      Remember, however, that although fathers can be active, nurturing, involved caregivers with their infants, as Aka pygmy fathers are, in many cultures men have not chosen to follow this pattern (Parkinson, 2010). Also, if fathers have mental health problems, they may not interact as effectively with their infants. A recent study revealed that depressed fathers focused more on their own needs than their infants’ needs, directing more negative and critical speech toward infants (Sethna, Murray, & Ramchandani, 2012).
     Do fathers and mothers interact with their infants in different ways? Maternal interactions usually center on child-care activities such as feeding, changing diapers, or bathing. Paternal interactions are more likely to include play (Parke & Clarke-Stewart, 2011). Fathers engage in more rough-and-tumble play than mothers do. They bounce infants, throw them up in the air, tickle them, and so on (Lamb, 2000). Mothers do play with infants, but their play is less physical and arousing than that of fathers.
     In one study, fathers were interviewed about their caregiving responsibilities when their children were 6, 15, 24, and 36 months of age (NICHD Early Child Care Research Network, 2000). Some of the fathers were videotaped while playing with their children at 6 and 36 months. Fathers were more involved in caregiving—bathing, feeding, dressing the child, taking the child to child care, and so on—when they worked fewer hours and mothers worked more hours, when mothers and fathers were younger, when mothers reported greater marital intimacy, and when the children were boys.

fig 6.11


Because the United States does not have a policy of paid leave for child care, child care in the United States has become a major national concern (Berlin, 2012; Lamb, 2012; Phillips & Lowenstein, 2011). Many factors influence the effects of child care, including the age of the child, the type of child care, and the quality of the program.
     In the United States, approximately 15 percent of children 5 years of age and younger attend more than one child-care arrangement. One study of 2- and 3-year-old children revealed that an increase in the number of childcare arrangements the children experienced was linked to an increase in behavioral problems and a decrease in prosocial behavior (Morrissey, 2009).
     The type of child care varies extensively (Berlin, 2012; Hillemeier & others, 2012; Lamb, 2012). Child care is provided in large centers with elaborate facilities and in private homes. Some child-care centers are commercial operations; others are nonprofit centers run by churches, civic groups, and employers. Some child-care providers are professionals; others are mothers who want to earn extra money. Figure 6.12 presents the primary care arrangements for children under 5 years of age with employed mothers (Clarke-Stewart & Miner, 2008).
     Child-care quality makes a difference (Berlin, 2012; Lamb, 2012). What constitutes a high-quality child-care program for infants? In high-quality child care (Clarke-Stewart & Miner, 2008, p. 273):
      Caregivers encourage the children to be actively engaged in a variety of activities, have frequent, positive interactions that include smiling, touching, holding, and speaking at the child’s eye level, respond properly to the child’s questions or requests, and encourage children to talk about their experiences, feelings, and ideas.
      High-quality child care also involves providing children with a safe environment, access to age-appropriate toys and participation in age-appropriate activities, and a low caregiverchild ratio that allows caregivers to spend considerable time with children on an individual basis.
     Children are more likely to experience poor-quality child care if they come from families with few resources (psychological, social, and economic) (Berlin, 2012; Carta & others, 2012). Many researchers have examined the role of poverty in the quality of child care (Hillemeier & others, 2012). One study found that extensive child care was harmful to low-income children only when the care was of low quality (Votruba-Drzal, Coley, & Chase-Lansdale, 2004). Even if the child was in child care more than 45 hours a week, high-quality care was linked with fewer internalizing problems (anxiety, for example) and externalizing problems (aggressive and destructive behaviors, for example). Another study revealed that children from low-income families benefited in terms of school readiness and language development when their parents selected higher-quality child care (McCartney & others, 2007). 

     What are some strategies parents can follow in regard to child care? Child-care expert Kathleen McCartney (2003, p. 4) offered this advice:
     • Recognize that the quality of your parenting is a key factor in your child’s development.
     • Monitor your child’s development. “Parents should observe for themselves whether their children seem to be having behavior problems.” They need to talk with their child-care providers and pediatricians about their child’s behavior.
     • Take some time to find the best child care. Observe different child-care facilities and be certain that you like what you see. “Quality child care costs money, and not all parents can afford the child care they want. However, state subsidies, and other programs like Head Start, are available for families in need.”

fig 6.12