Caregiver- infant interactions


Caregiver-infant interactions


  • From birth babies and their mothers spend a lot of time in intense and pleasurable interaction
  • Mothers typically pick up on and respond to infant alertness around two-thirds of the time
  • From around three months this interaction tends to be increasingly frequent and involves close attention to each other's verbal signals and facial expressions
  • A key element of this interaction is reciprocity, an interaction is reciprocal when each person responds to the other and elicits a response from them
  • Traditional views of childhood have seen the baby in a passive role, receiving care from an adult
  • Both mother and child can initiate interactions and they appear to take turns in doing so

Interactional synchrony

  • Two people are said to be synchronised when they carry out the same action simultaneously
  • It takes place when a mother and infant interact in such a way that their actions and emotions mirror each other
  • It is believed that interactional synchrony is important for the development of mother-infant attachment

Distinguishing between interactional synchrony and reciprocity

  • In interactional synchrony the carer and infant tend to mirror what the other is doing in terms of their facial and body movements
  • In reciprocity, one person responds to the action of the other person with a similar action but these responses are not necessarily similar as they are in interactional synchrony


-It is hard to know what is happening when observing infants

  • Many studies into mother-infant interactions have shown the same patterns of beh
  • However, what is being observed is merely hand movements or changes in expression
  • It is difficult to be sure what is taking place from the infant's perspective
  • This means we cannot be certain that behs seen in mother-infant interactions have a special meaning

+The research uses well controlled procedures

  • Mother-infant interactions are usually filmed from multiple angles
  • Very fine details of beh can be recorded and analysed later
  • Also, babies do not know they are being observed so their beh does not change in response to their observation
  • Means the studies have good validity

-Observations do not tell us the purpose of synchrony and reciprocity

  • Feldman points out that synchrony and reciprocity simply describe behs that occur at the same time
  • These are robust…


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