Trajectories of mothers' emotional availability: relations with infant temperament in predicting attachment security

Attach Hum Dev. 2017 Feb;19(1):38-57. doi: 10.1080/14616734.2016.1252780. Epub 2016 Nov 16.


The present study examined observations of parenting quality (mothers' emotional availability - EA) during infant bedtimes at 4 points across the infants' first year, assessing relations between levels and trajectories of EA and infant attachment at 12 months and the role of infant temperament in moderating these associations. The sample (N = 128) was predominantly Euro-American (82.5%) and at low socioeconomic risk. Latent growth curve modeling with latent basis coefficients indicated substantial individual differences in initial levels and slopes in EA trajectories across the first year. Both levels of maternal EA and EA trajectories across the first year predicted 12-month infant attachment security. Although maternal EA tended to decrease across the first year in the full sample, EA trajectories that showed a "bounce-back" between 6 and 12 months, suggesting more successful maternal adaptation to an expanding infant developmental repertoire, predicted greater infant security at 12 months. In addition, linkages between latent EA trajectories and 12-month attachment were moderated by 3-month infant temperamental reactivity and regulation. These findings indicate that infant attachment security is sensitive to both static and dynamic aspects of parenting quality across the first year, and that infant temperament can interact with both in predicting infant attachment.

Keywords: Parenting trajectories; infant attachment security; infant temperament; maternal emotional availability.

MeSH terms

  • Emotions
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant Behavior / psychology*
  • Mother-Child Relations / psychology*
  • Mothers / psychology*
  • Object Attachment*
  • Parenting / psychology
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Temperament*