Child-Care Usage and Mother-Infant “Quality Time”

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Abstract

Mothers' time-use patterns were compared in families in which infants spent more than 30 hours per week in child care (In-Care group; n= 143) versus 0 hours per week (At-Home group; n= 183) from birth to 6 months of age. In-Care group mothers spent about 12 fewer hours per week interacting with their infants, for about 32% less time; fathers of these infants were more involved in caregiving. The groups did not differ in the quality of mother-infant interaction. In the In-Care group, quantity of interaction was related to greater separation anxiety and concerns about effects of maternal employment. Time-use data were not related to child outcomes at 15 months of age. Results suggest that the effect of extensive time spent apart on the quantity and quality of mother-infant interaction may be smaller than anticipated.

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