University of Toronto Magazine University of Toronto Magazine
Spring 2005

Bringing Up Baby

Adult moms more affectionate toward infants, study finds

Adult mothers tend to display more affection toward their infants whereas teenage moms focus more on instrumental behaviour – fixing their infant’s clothes or adjusting their soother – finds a new study of maternal behaviour.

“This was very surprising,” says Katherine Krpan, who conducted the research as part of her undergraduate thesis at the University of Toronto at Mississauga. “We expected to see teen mothers exhibit more inappropriate behaviours toward their babies, such as poking and prodding, which has been shown by previous research.”

Krpan, along with her co-authors Alison Fleming, Rosemarie Coombs and Dawn Zinga from UTM and Meir Steiner from McMaster University, examined the maternal behaviour of 119 mothers in three age groups: teenage mothers (15 to 18 years), young mothers (19 to 25 years) and mature mothers (26 to 40 years), all of whom had given birth within a three-month time span. They also found that moms who received consistent care during their childhoods behaved more affectionately toward their infants than those raised by frequently changing caregivers.

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  1. One Response to “ Bringing Up Baby ”

  2. I can understand why that is, seeing as a teen mother doesn’t usually have much knowledge about babies and just does what is obvious, which is usually the instrumental behavior. Adult mothers are more aware of how to raise and care for a child and tend to be more relaxed, so they enjoy having the baby by giving it affection more than a stressed out teen mother who is just focused on the technical well being, if that makes sense. Adult mothers are usually more comfortable being mothers and aren’t as worried about every detail, while teen mothers are more uncomfortable and focus more on the details.