Is the prediction of adolescent outcomes from early child care moderated by later maternal sensitivity? Results from the nichd study of early child care and youth development

Dev Psychol. 2014 Feb;50(2):542-53. doi: 10.1037/a0033709. Epub 2013 Aug 12.


Longitudinal data are used to examine whether effects of early child care are amplified and/or attenuated by later parenting. Analyses tested these interactions using parenting as both a categorical and continuous variable to balance power and flexibility in testing moderation. The most consistent finding was that maternal sensitivity during adolescence accentuated the association between child care quality and adolescent academic-cognitive skills at age 15 years when maternal sensitivity during adolescence was high. This interaction was obtained in analyses with maternal sensitivity as both a categorical and continuous variable. Relations between early child care hours and adolescent behavioral outcomes also were moderated by maternal sensitivity, with longer child care hours predicting more impulsivity and externalizing at age 15 when maternal sensitivity during middle childhood, scored as a categorical variable, was low to moderate and when maternal sensitivity during adolescence, scored as a continuous variable, was lower. These findings suggest that some child care effects are moderated by subsequent parenting and that this moderation may take both linear and nonlinear forms.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Behavior*
  • Age Factors
  • Child
  • Child Care / methods
  • Child Care / psychology*
  • Child Development / physiology*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Impulsive Behavior
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Internal-External Control
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Maternal Behavior*
  • Mother-Child Relations*
  • National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (U.S.)
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care
  • Self Report
  • United States