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A new study suggests shared parenting is linked to stronger bonding with babies.
A Portuguese study of middle class couples, published in the current edition of the Journal of Family Psychology, found that the strength of the mother-baby bond was mostly stronger when mothers spent less time caring for the baby. However, the father-baby bonding was greater if the father spent more time caring for the baby.
When it came to playing with the baby, bonding was found to be stronger with both mothers and fathers when they played more.
Time spent caring and playing with the child was measured by asking parents to complete surveys about how they spend their time. The strength of the bonding was tested when the baby was 12 months and 18 months old. The strength of the bonding was measured by the “strange situation” test – how a baby responds to a strange situation when in the presence of the mother or father.
The researchers, led by Marina Fuertes at the Centro de Psicologia, University of Porto in Portugal, studied 82 middle class families and observed mothers and fathers separately.
The researchers also found that when a mother is observed to interact more sensitively with the baby, the father tends to be more sensitive too.
The researchers conclude that those supporting families should “take a family systems perspective and attend to the degree to which each parent’s behaviour affects the other parent’s behaviour and how the parents together co-construct a co-parenting system of shared caregiving responsibilities and daily routines”.
*This is an edited version of an article on WorkCareShare.