Parenting stress, infant emotion regulation, maternal sensitivity, and the cognitive development of triplets: a model for parent and child influences in a unique ecology

Child Dev. 2004 Nov-Dec;75(6):1774-91. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-8624.2004.00816.x.


To examine the development of triplets, 23 sets of triplets were matched with 23 sets of twins and 23 singletons (N=138). Maternal sensitivity was observed at newborn, 3, 6, and 12 months, and infants' cognitive and symbolic skills at 1 year. Triplets received lower maternal sensitivity across infancy and exhibited poorer cognitive competencies compared with singletons and twins. The most medically compromised triplet showed the lowest regulation, received lower maternal sensitivity, and demonstrated the weakest outcomes compared with siblings. Structural modeling charted three levels of influence on cognitive outcomes: direct, indirect, and contextual. The triplet ecology provides a context for assessing the relations among infant inborn dispositions, the rearing environment, and the role of exclusive parenting in development.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Affect*
  • Child Development*
  • Cognition*
  • Concept Formation*
  • Female
  • Health Status
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant Behavior / psychology*
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Maternal Behavior / psychology*
  • Mothers / psychology*
  • Parent-Child Relations*
  • Parenting / psychology*
  • Risk Factors
  • Self Efficacy*
  • Social Environment*
  • Social Support
  • Stress, Psychological / psychology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Symbolism