Caregiver Emotional Availability, Caregiver Soothing Behaviors, and Infant Pain During Immunization

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Objective To determine whether caregivers with more extreme emotional availability scores enact different levels of soothing behaviors and whether infants of these caregivers differ in their pain scores across the first year of life. Methods Cross-sectional analyses (analyses of variance and multivariate analyses of variance) were conducted with parent–infant dyads at 2, 4, 6, and 12 months of age who had extreme caregiver emotional availability scores. Pain scores were examined using a minimum clinically significant difference. Results Infants with lower pain scores had caregivers who were in the high emotional availability group. This effect was most pronounced during the regulatory period at 2 months, and clinically significant differences in pain scores were found during the regulatory period at 12 months. Physical comforting and/or rocking were characteristic of caregivers with high emotional availability. Conclusion This study suggests that caregiver emotional availability, in the extremes, do have clinically meaningful relationships with infant pain regulation.

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