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Abstract

Fifty-one father-infant dyads were studied at 24–72 hours of age and at 1 month to determine the effects of early contact, sex, and irritability of the infant on fathers' perceptions and behaviors. Irritability was measured by a factor of four items from the Brazelton Neonatal Assessment Scale administered at 24–72 hours. Fathers who held their infants in the first hour of life demonstrated more nonverbal behavior toward their infants during an observation at 1 month than those who did not have this early contact. Fathers interacted more verbally with girls than with boys at 1 month. A sex and irritability interaction effect was found in fathers' perceptions of high-irritability boys and low-irritability girls. Fathers also reported more frequent care-taking of high-irritability infants of both sexes than of low-irribitablity infants.