Associations between parent-infant interactions, cortisol and vagal regulation in infants, and socioemotional outcomes: A systematic review

Infant Behav Dev. 2022 May:67:101687. doi: 10.1016/j.infbeh.2022.101687. Epub 2022 Jan 17.


Emotional regulation in early infancy develops mainly through social interactions with caregivers and is a key process in socioemotional functioning. The use of physiological measures such as vagal tone and cortisol can help researchers understand what underlies this association between parent-infant interaction, emotion regulation, and socioemotional functioning. This review integrates 39 studies from four databases. We first examine associations between parent-infant interactions and physiological measures of emotion regulation in children aged 0-24 months. We then examine the association between these physiological measures and children's socioemotional outcomes. The results provide insights into which aspects of parent-infant interactions are associated with the physiological functioning of infants and which socioemotional outcomes in infants may be influenced by this functioning.

Keywords: Emotion regulation; Infant; Parent-infant interactions; Physiological regulation; Socioemotional outcomes.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Emotions* / physiology
  • Humans
  • Hydrocortisone*
  • Infant
  • Parents / psychology


  • Hydrocortisone