Care in the First Year May Improve Mother-Infant Attachment
like the United States, Australia has seen a dramatic increase of
working mothers in the past three decades. However, unlike the United
States, Australia's government policies have encouraged women with
children to re-enter the workforce through the provision of subsidized,
regulated child care.
recent report investigated whether maternal employment had an impact
on developing mother-infant attachment. First-time Australian mothers
were interviewed during their second trimester of pregnancy, and
twice after their babies were born. Prenatal interviews showed that
the majority of mothers expected to return to work after the birth
of their babies and said they would feel comfortable using nonfamily
care for their infants. By the end of the first year, two thirds
of mothers had returned to some form of paid employment but
most worked less than 30 hours per week.
who indicated they were more committed to returning to work and
were less anxious about using nonfamily child care at the prenatal
interview were more likely to have secure infants. In addition,
earlier return to work was associated with attachment security.
This finding was consistent with previous research that had shown
that regular, predictable separations begun early in the first year
will be less disruptive to attachment security than separations
is possible that Australian mothers, in general, are more comfortable
returning to work and less anxious about nonfamily child care due
to the government regulation of child care quality. The wider societal
awareness of quality in child care in Australia may also contribute
to the more positive attachment outcomes for mothers who chose an
earlier return to work.
Maternal Employment and Infant-Mother Attachment Security at 12
Months Postpartum, L. J. Harrison and J. A. Ungerer, Developmental
Psychology, Sept. 2002.
contact: James L. Dannemiller, PhD, the editor of Developmental
Psychology by phone at (608) 263-5895, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or online at http://www.apa.org/journals/dev.html.
Facts in Action, March/April 2003