Developmental changes in mother-infant face-to-face communication: birth to 3 months

Lavelli, M., & Fogel, A. (2002). Developmental changes in mother-infant face-to-face communication: Birth to 3 months. Developmental Psychology, 38,288-305. doi:10.1037/0012- 1649.38.2.288

Abstract.This study documented the process of developmental change in early mother-infant face-to-face communication, observing the growth process within individual cases. Sixteen primiparous mother-infant dyads were videotaped during a naturalistic face-to-face interaction weekly, from age 1 to 14 weeks, in two different conditions: infant in mother’s arms, and infant semi-reclined on the sofa. Results showed a curvilinear development of early face-to-face communication, with a significant increase between week 4 and week 9, depending on the dyad, and a divergence of individual developmental trajectories around 2 months. After this age, two different groups of dyads were identified: one group with trajectories that continue to increase in the duration of face-to-face communication, the other group with trajectories that peak and then begin to decrease. After the first month, the duration of mother-infant face-to-face communication was significantly longer when the infant was on the sofa rather than in mother’s arms. In the latter condition, during the third month girls spent a significantly longer time than boys in face-to-face communication. These findings suggest that features of face-to-face communication context such as being held vs. not being held by the mother interact with the infant’s age and sex in affecting mother-infant communication.