Parents' perceptions of their neonates and their relation to infant development

Child Care Health Dev. 2011 Jul;37(4):484-92. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2214.2011.01210.x. Epub 2011 Mar 11.


Background: Father and mother neonatal perceptions can alter the parents' behaviour towards their child and influence their relationship and, consequently, his/her development. The aim of this study was to examine how mother-father perceptions of their neonates evolve during the first month of life, and whether these perceptions, and the psychological and social characteristics of the mothers are good predictors of infant development.

Methods: Seventy-two mother-father-child triads participated. Maternal personality, including neuroticism, and maternal depression and anxiety symptoms were assessed. Parents' neonatal perceptions and neonatal behaviour were assessed at 3 days and at 1 month post partum and infant development at 4 and 12 months post partum.

Results: Parents' initial perceptions were positive, decreased in both parents during the first month and evolved differently according to the child's gender. High maternal neuroticism was related to worse neonatal perceptions, and high father perception was related to better infant development at 12 months.

Conclusions: These results support the contribution of parents' neonatal perception on infant development and may have social implications regarding the role of fathers in the parenting of their children.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Anxiety / diagnosis
  • Child Development*
  • Child Rearing / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Linear Models
  • Maternal Behavior / psychology
  • Motor Skills
  • Parent-Child Relations*
  • Parents / psychology*
  • Paternal Behavior / psychology
  • Sex Factors
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Young Adult