Maternal sensitivity throughout infancy: continuity and relation to attachment security

Infant Behav Dev. 2010 Feb;33(1):50-60. doi: 10.1016/j.infbeh.2009.10.009. Epub 2009 Dec 8.


Relations among different measures of maternal sensitivity were assessed longitudinally by examining maternal behavior when infants were 4 months, 15 months, and 2.5 years. At each time period, two measures of maternal sensitivity were scored (4 months: maternal vocal and smiling contingency in face-to-face interactions; 15 months: maternal scaffolding and following of infants' play within joint attention; 2.5 years: maternal facilitative and collaborative play within joint attention). When infants were 2.5 years, attachment security was assessed. Mothers' scores on each maternal sensitivity measure within each time period were correlated with their maternal sensitivity scores in another time period, suggesting individual measures of maternal sensitivity were tapping similar aspects across the time periods. Maternal vocal contingency at 4 months was the strongest predictor of infants' attachment security over 2 years later.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Child, Preschool
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant Behavior
  • Interpersonal Relations
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Maternal Behavior / psychology*
  • Mother-Child Relations*
  • Mothers / psychology*
  • Object Attachment*
  • Psychology, Child
  • Reference Values
  • Social Perception*
  • Trust / psychology