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.