Individual differences in the contribution of maternal soothing to infant distress reduction

Laudan B. Jahromi, Cynthia A. Stifter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


This study investigates individual differences in the contribution of specific maternal regulatory behaviors to the mother-infant dyad's regulation of infant distress response. Additionally, we examined the stability of infants' stress responses and the stability of specific maternal soothing behaviors. The sample included 128 mother-infant dyads that were observed during an inoculation at 2 and 6 months. The average intensity of infant cry response showed modest stability across age only before controlling for the infant's general state of irritability, and the duration of crying was not stable. Of the 8 specific maternal regulatory behaviors studied, affection, touching, and vocalizing showed the strongest stability across infant age. Finally, an index of the contingency between maternal soothing and infant cry reduction at 2 months predicted shorter cry duration but not cry intensity at 6 months. The results of this study indicate that infants whose mothers showed a greater contribution to reducing their distress at 2 months showed a shorter duration of crying 4 months later. This suggests a possible longitudinal influence of maternal regulation on infants' distress responses.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)255-269
Number of pages15
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2007

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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