Caregiving and infant behavior in day care and in homes

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Social interaction and play behavior were compared in community-based day care and at home for 2 matched groups of 18-mo-olds (30 Ss). Adult-infant, infant-peer, and infant-toy interaction were time sampled. More adult-infant play, tactile contact, and reciprocal smiling were found in day care. More infant verbal responsiveness to maternal talking, more infant crying, and more maternal restrictiveness were found at home. Developmental level of play with toys was higher in day care, a difference associated with interaction with peers. The importance of the infant in shaping the environment emerged clearly from the data; day care/home differences in adult-infant interaction were often a function of differences in infant as well as adult behavior. No adverse effects of daily mother-infant separation were noted in the daily social and play behavior of the day-care group. The importance of peers as social objects for the toddler emerged from this study. Peers seemed to contribute to the high levels of play and to the positive affect noted in day care and also seemed to facilitate separation from adult caregivers. (37 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved)

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