Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)


Family Consumer Human Development

Committee Chair(s)

Lori A. Roggman


Lori A. Roggman


Ann M. Berghout Austin


Vonda K. Jump Norman


Mothers care for their infants in various ways, many similar and others more unique, and are influenced by a variety of factors. Influences such as doctors' advice, attending prenatal and child development classes, reading books and magazines, and learning from personal experience contribute to the caregiving decisions mothers make. A type of parenting that focuses on the responsiveness and sensitivity of the mother to the infant's needs is known as natural parenting. Natural parenting involves caregiving practices that are expected to co-occur, such as breastfeeding and frequently maintaining close physical contact with the infant. Two other practices that some mothers find "intuitive" and natural are co-sleeping and singing. Singing, in particular, may or may not be related to natural parenting, but has been found to be culturally universal and offers benefits to the infant's health and development. In this study mothers of 2- to 6-month-old infants were asked about specific caregiving practices, such as feeding, sleeping, carrying, and singing. Mothers' responses were analyzed using quantitative and qualitative methods. The quantitative responses show how one kind of caregiving decision, such as feeding method, is related to other caregiving decisions, such as where the baby sleeps or whether to sing to the infant. The qualitative ratings delve further into the sources of information and decisions mothers make in their caregiving practices. Practitioners and health agencies may benefit in promoting practices that are beneficial to mothers and infants by knowing how caregiving practices and decisions are related.




This work made publicly available electronically on November 1, 2010.