Mothers' and fathers' behaviors toward their 3- To 4-month-old infants in lower, middle, and upper socioeconomic African American families

Jaipaul Lalla Roopnarine, Michael E. Lamb, Hillary N. Fouts, Tracey Y. Lewis-Elligan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

47 Scopus citations


African American mothers' and fathers' availability, caregiving, and social behaviors toward their infants in and around their homes were examined. Twenty lower, 21 middle, and 21 upper socioeconomic families and their 3- to 4-month-old infants were observed for 4 3-hr blocks between 8:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m. on 4 different weekdays. With increasing economic resources, children's exposure to multiple caregivers and nonresident fathers declined. Mothers were more available to infants than fathers were, regardless of socioeconomic status. Mothers fed infants more than fathers did, whereas fathers vocalized more and displayed more affection to infants than mothers did when they were examined in proportion to caregiver presence. Mothers and fathers interacted with male and female infants quite similarly, although, in the upper socioeconomic families, fathers of daughters were more available than fathers of sons. Fathers and mothers in the different socioeconomic groups held, displayed affection to, and soothed their infants differently.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)723-732
Number of pages10
JournalDevelopmental Psychology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 2005



  • African Americans
  • Caregiving behaviors
  • Egalitarianism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology

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