Attachment Parenting

Journal Studies

More research is needed to identify normal sleep patterns in breastfed versus bottle-fed infants, in toddlers, on weekdays versus weekends, and as related to gender and ethnic differences. What is known is that children sleep longer at night and experience fewer night-wakings and daytime naps as they develop.

Exclusively breastfed infants had less colic and fussiness, and slept longer. Melatonin, which promotes sleep, available only in breastmilk, showed a clear relationship to infant sleep patterns.

More research is needed to identify what is normal when it comes to child sleep. Some of what is known is that children need longer nighttime sleep until about 9 years old. By school age, most children sleep through the night, but children up to 3 1/2 years old continue to wake at least once. Low birth-weight and pre-term infants sleep more. Infants of younger mother sleep more. All infants sleep longer at night, wake multiple times at night, and sleep longer daytime naps than young children who mostly stop taking naps by 5 years old. Girls sleep longer than boys. Children with siblings sleep less.

As infants grew older, mothers provided less nurturing touch, patting and stroking but more tickling and static touch.

Touch is needed for social-emotional and physical development and well-being. In addition, there are therapeutic benefits of massage.

While maternal touch predicts mother-infant reciprocity, which is linked to positive child cognitive, language, and social-emotional development, the incidence of all forms of nurturing touch decrease through the infant’s first year, especially after six months.

Oxytocin levels rise in both mothers and fathers who provide high levels of affectionate touch but not in parents who provide less nurturing touch.

Skin-to-skin contact lessened the mother’s stress and postpartum depression symptoms within the first month after childbirth.

While low-income, ethnic-minority families displayed less sensitivity overall to their children, positive father involvement and close mother-father relationships were especially beneficial in the case of maternal risk.

A mother’s emotional goals predicted her sensitivity to infant distress more so than her own emotional reaction. In addition, her prenatal ability to detect an unfamiliar infant’s distress was associated with more maternal sensitivity with her own infant.

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