A Longitudinal Investigation of Maternal Touching Across the First 6 Months of Life: Age and Context Effects

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

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  • N: 12 mothers and their full-term infants (eight male, four female)
  • Subject Ages: Birth to 2 years
  • Location: United States, a midwestern community
  • SES: Middle class
  • Eligibility: Not available
  • Additional:
    • All mothers were over 21 years, had completed high school diplomas and beyond, and were from intact, middle-class families
    • 11 Caucasian, one African American


  1. To observe the overall duration of maternal touch and the types of touch employed by mothers across age (1, 3 and 5 1/2 months) and interaction context.

Variables Measured, Instruments Used

  • Maternal touch - the Caregiver Infant Touch Scale

Design—Descriptive longitudinal



  1. Mothers provided diverse tactile stimulation to their infants, varying from passive touch to active and stimulating behaviors.
  2. The amount and type of touch that mothers provided changed with the infant’s age and the interaction context.
  3. Infant’s age influenced duration and types of touch mothers utilized.
  4. Across age, a decrease in nurturing touch, patting and stroking was observed.
  5. As the infants aged, there was an increase in tickling and static touch.


  • Small sample size
  • Mother-infant interaction was only seen in two contexts and for five-minute periods.