Objectives: The current study investigated the relationships between maternal emotional availability and infant pain expressions.
Methods: A group of 73 mother-infant dyads were recruited prior to their routine immunization appointment and were subsequently filmed.
Results: Analyses revealed that maternal non-intrusiveness was related to lower infant pain expressions both immediately and 1 min following needle. In addition, maternal sensitivity and overall emotional availability were related to lower infant pain expressions 1 min after needle.
Conclusions: These results suggest that intrusive caregiving behaviors can increase infant pain reactivity and hinder the regulation of pain-related distress. On the other hand, sensitive and emotionally available caregiving help infants to regulate their pain-related distress. The results support that infant pain expressions are related to the quality of maternal caregiving.