Mother and infant communication: mothers' experiences and infants' preferences
Two longitudinal studies were conducted to explore the mother-infant communication process during the first four months of postnatal life. One study focused on mothers' experiences communicating with their infants. Forty-seven mothers were interviewed when their infants were 6 to 8 weeks of age; 42 of the same mothers were interviewed when their infants were 16 to 18 weeks of age. Mothers were asked questions about their interactions with their infants, how they talked to their infants, why they talked to their infants, how they learned to talk to their infants, and what th,eir beliefs were about the relationship between talking to infants and development. A model was constructed from these data, conceptualizing the communication process between mothers and their young infants. Four themes were identified: expert advice influenced some mother-infant communication; mothers and infants co-regulated some of their communication; maternal communication behaviors were consistent across age and ethnicity; and experience talking to pets influenced some new mothers' speaking styles.