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Working Families - Infants And Toddlers

Social Issues ReferenceChild Development Reference - Vol 8Working Families - School-age Children, Infants And Toddlers, Nonmaternal Care

Infants and Toddlers

The research on infants and toddlers with working mothers has taken a different approach. At these early ages, it is very difficult to measure child outcomes that have long-term predictability, so studies have focused more on mother-child interaction or resorted to long-term designs. Studies of infants have examined the quantity and quality of mother-child interactions, and particular attention has been given to the security of the mother-infant attachment. The studies looking at quantity and quality suggest that although employed mothers spend less time with the infant during the workweek, they are more highly interactive when with them. The studies of attachment have produced mixed results, complicated by measurement difficulties. Most studies found mothers' employment status unrelated to the quality of the mother-infant attachment, but a few found that attachment was less secure when the mother was employed full-time. The most extensive investigation of these issues is an ongoing study conducted by a team of researchers under the auspices of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD). In this study, as reported in 1997, neither the child's age at the onset of employment nor the amount of nonmaternal care was found to be related to the security of attachment. What was important was the quality of the mother-child interaction and particularly the mother's sensitivity to the child's needs.

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