Adding Comments

We invite Member's comments on any Journal issue or any individual Journal Article. You will find the space for comments at the bottom of each Journal and Article page. You can also send comments directly to the editor at: Members can also be notified of all new comments posted by updating their Notification Settings.
Publication Date: 
Page Count: 
Starting Page: 
Price: $10.00

This study examined differences between mothers and fathers in how they touched their preterm infants and the relationships of parental touch to infant gender and to the parents' state of mind regarding touch. There were no differences in the ways that parents touched boys versus girls or in their use of nurturing and stimulating touch. However, fathers touched their infants more frequently than mothers and in more complex ways. A father's experience with touch in his family of origin was related to the ways he touched his infant although evidence of these intergenerational effects was not found for mothers. For all parents, their personal satisfaction with the touch they experienced in their current lives was associated with the ways they touched their infants. However, results suggest that mothers and fathers have different psychological strategies for grappling with their own perceived tactile deprivation or abuse from touch.


Ainsworth, M., Blehar, M., Waters, E., & Wall, S. (1978). Patterns of attachment: A psychological study of the strange situation. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.

Anisfield, E., Casper, V., Nogyce, M., & Cunninghara, N. (1990). Does infant carrying promote attachment? An experimental study of the effects of increased physical contact on the development of attachment. Child Development, 61, 1617-1627.

Anokhin, K., Mileusnic, R., Shanakina, I., & Rose, S. (1991). Effects of early experience on c-fos gene expression in the chick forebrain. Brain Research, 544, 101-107.

Brook, J., Whiteman, M., & Zheng, L. (2002). Intergenerational transmission of risks for problem behavior. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 30(1), 65-76.

Carvell, G., & Simons, D. (1996). Abnormal tactile experience early in life disrupts active touch. Journal of Neuroscience, 16(9,), 2750-2757.

Champagne, F., & Meaney, M. (2001). Like mother, like daughter: Evidence for nongenomic transmission of parental behavior and stress responsivity. Progress in Brain Research, 133, 287-302.

Dosamantes-Beaudry, L. (1997). Somatic experience in psychoanalysis. Psychoanalytic Psychology, 14, 517-530.

Eidelman, A., Hovars, R., & Kaitz, M. (1994). Comparative tactile behavior of mothers and fathers with their newborn infants. Israel Journal of Medical Science, 30(1), 79-82.

Fleming, A., O'Day, D., & Kramer, G. (1999). Neurobiology of mother-infant interactions: Experience and central nervous system plasticity across development and generations. Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews, 23(5), 673-685.

Francis, D., Diorio, J., Liu, D., & Meaney, M. (1999). Nongenomic transmission across generations of maternal behavior and stress responses in the rat. Science, 286, 1155-58.

Greenspan, J., & Bolanowski, S. (1996). The psychophysics of tactile perception and its peripheral physiological basis. In L. Kruger (Ed.) Pain and Touch (pp. 25-104). San Diego, Ca: Academic Press.

Harrison, L., & Woods, S. (1991). Early parental touch and preterm infants. Journal of Obstetrical, Gynecologic, and Neonatal Nursing, 20(4), 299-306.

Hofer, M. (1993). Developmental roles of timing in the mother-infant interaction. In G. Turkewitz & D. Devenny (Eds.) Developmental Time and Timing (pp. 211-231). Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Hunter, M., & Struve, M. (1998). The ethical use of touch in psychotherapy. Thousand Oaks, Ca: Sage.

Huntley, G. (1997). Differential effects of abnormal tactile experience in shaping representation patterns in developing and adult motor cortex. Journal of Neuroscience, 17(23), 9220-32.

Jourard, S., & Rubin, J. (1968). Self-disclosure and touching: A study of two modes of interpersonal encounter and their interrelation. Journal of Humanistic Psychology, 8, 39-48.

Kaitz, M., Zvi, H., Levy, M., Berger, A., & Edelman, A. (1995). The uniqueness of mother-own infant interactions. Infant Behavior and Development, 18, 247-252.

Keller, A., Weintraub, N., & Miyashita, E. (1996). Tactile experience determines the organization of movement representations in rat motor cortex. Neuroreport, 7(14), 2373-8.

Kempermann, G., Kuhn, H., & Gage, F. (1997). More hippocampal neurons in adult mice living in an enriched environment. Nature, 386, 493-495.

Kuzela, A., Stifter, C., & Worobey, J. (1990). Breastfeeding and mother-infant interactions. Journal of Reproductive and Infant Psychology, 8, 185-194.

Landerholm, E., & Scriven, G. (1981). A comparison of mother and father interaction with their six month-old male and female infants. Early Child Development and Care, 7, 317-328.

Leiderman, P., Leifer, A., Seashore, M., Barnett, C., & Grabstein, R. (1973). Mother-infant interaction: Effects of early deprivation, prior experience and sex of infant. Association for Research in Nervous and Mental Disease Research Publication, 51, 154-175.

Levy-Shiff, R., Sharir, H., & Mogilner, M. (1989). Mother- and father-preterm infant relationships in the hospital preterm nursery. Child Development, 60(1), 93-102.

Lewis, M. (1972). State as an infant-environment interaction: An analysis of motherinfant interaction as a function of sex. Merrill-Palmer Quarterly, 18, 95-121.

Lickliter, R. (2000). The role of sensory stimulation in perinatal development: Insights from comparative research for care of the high-risk infant. Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics, 21(6), 437-47.

Liu, D., Diorio, J., Tannenbaum, B., Caldji, C., Francis, D., & Freedman, A., et al. (1997). Maternal care, hippocampal glucocorticoid receptors and hypothalamicpituitary-adrenal responses to stress. Science, 227, 1659-62.

Ludington-Hoe, S., Hashemi, M., Argote, L., Medellin, G., & Rey, H. (1992). Selected physiologic measures and behavior during parental skin contact with Colombian preterm infants. Journal of Developmental Physiology, 18(5), 223-32.

Lytton, H., & Romney, D. (1991). Parents' differential socialization of boys and girls: A meta-analysis. Psychological Bulletin, 109, 267-296.

Main, M. (1990). Parental aversion to infant-initiated contact is correlated with the parent's own rejection during childhood: The effects of experience on signals of security with respect to attachment. In K.E. Barnard & T.B. Brazelton (Eds.) Touch: The foundation of experience (pp. 461-495). Madison: International University Press.

Major, B. (1990). Gender and status patterns in social touch: The impact of setting and age. In M. Gunzenhauser, T. Brazelton and T. Field (Eds.) Advances in Touch: New implications in human development (pp. 141-148). Skillman, NJ: Johnson & Johnson.

Miller, L., Kramer, R., Warren, V., Wickramaratne, P., & Weissman, M. (1997). Intergenerational transmission of parental bonding among women. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 36(8), 1134-9.

Moss, H. (1967). Sex, age, and state determinants of mother-infant interaction. MerrillPalmer Quarterly, 13, 19-35.

Moss, H., & Robson, K. (1968). Maternal influences in early social visual behavior. Child Development, 39, 401-480.

NICHD Early Child Care Research Network (2000). Factors associated with fathers' caregiving activities and sensitivities with young children. Journal of Family Psychology, 14(2), 200-19.

Nudo, R., Milliken, G., Jenkins, W., & Merzenich, M. (1996). Use-dependent alterations of movement representations in primary motor cortex of adult squirrel monkeys. Journal of Neuroscience, 16, 785-807.

Parke, R., O'Leary, S., & West, S. (1972). Mother-father-newborn interaction: Effects of maternal medication, labor, and sex of infant. Proceedings of the Annual Convention of the American Psychological Association, 7, 85-86.

Pearce, C., Martin, G., & Wood, K. (1995). Significance of touch for perceptions of parenting and psychological adjustment among adolescents. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 34(2), 160-7.

Pleck, J. (1997). Paternal Involvement, Levels, Sources, and Consequences. New York, NY: John Wiley & Sons.

Pruett, K. (1998). Role of the Father. Pediatrics, 102(5), 1253-61.

Raphael-Leff, D. (1994). Imaginative bodies of childbearing: Visions and revisions. In A. Erskine & D. Judd (Eds.) The imaginative body (pp. 13-42). Northvale, NJ: Jason Aronson.

Rosenthal, M. (1983). State variations in the newborn and mother-infant interaction during breast-feeding: Some sex differences. Developmental Psychology, 19, 740-745.

Sapolsky, R. (1997). The importance of a well-groomed child. Science, 277, 1620.

Scafidi, F., & Field, T. (1996). Massage therapy improves behavior in neonates born to HIV positive mothers. Journal of Pediatric Psychology, 21, 889-98.

Schanberg, S., Kuhn, C., Field, T., & Bartolome, J. (1990). Maternal deprivation and infant growth suppression. In M. Gunzenhauser, T. Brazelton, & T. Field (Eds.) Advances in touch: New implications in human development (pp. 3-11). Skillman, NJ: Johnson & Johnson.

Shields, M., & Sparling, J. (1993). Fathers' play and touch behaviors with their threemonth-old infants. Physical and Occupational Therapy in Pediatrics, 13(1), 39-59.

Smith, E. (1998). Traditions of touch in psychotherapy. In E. Smith, P. Clance & S. Imes (Eds.) Touch in psychotherapy (pp. 3-15). New York: Guilford.

Stepakoff, S. (1999). Mother-Infant tactile communication at four months: Effects of infant gender, maternal ethnicity and maternal depression. Unpublished Doctoral Dissertation, St. Johns University, New York.

Streri, A., Pownall, T., & Kingerlee, S. (1993). Seeing, reaching, touching: The relations between vision and touch in infancy. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Suomi, S. (1997). Early determinants of behavior: Evidence from primate studies. British Medical Bulletin, 53(1), 170-184.

Tomlinson, P., Rothenberg, M., & Carver, L. (1991). Behavioral interactions of fathers with infants and mothers in the immediate postpartum period. Journal of Nurse Midwifery, Jul-Aug 36(4), 232-9.

Toney, L. (1983). The effects of holding the newborn at delivery on paternal bonding. Nursing Research, 32(1), 16-19.

Tronick, E., Morelli, G., & Ivey, P. (1992). The Efe forager infant and toddler's pattern of social relationships: Multiple and simultaneous. Developmental Psychology, 28, 568-577.

Walsh, A. (1991). The Science of Love: Understanding Love and Its Effects on Mind and Body. Buffalo, NY: Prometheus Books.

Waters, E., Kondo-Ikemora, K., Posada, G., & Richters, J. (1990). Learning to love: Mechanisms and milestones. In M. Gunner & L. Stroufe (Eds.) Self Processes and Development. Minnesota Symposia on Child Psychology (Vol. 23, pp. 217-255). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.

Weinberg, M., & Tronick, E. (1997). Maternal depression and infant maladjustment: A failure of mutual regulation. In J. Noshpitz (Ed.) The Handbook of child and adolescent psychiatry: Vol 1. Infancy and preschool: Development and syndromes, (pp. 177-191). New York: John Wiley & Sons.

Weiss, S. (1990). Parental touching: Correlates of a child's body concept and body sentiment. In K.E. Barnard & T.B. Brazelton (Eds.) Touch: The foundation of experience (pp.425-459). Madison: International University Press.

Weiss, S. (1992). Measurement of the sensory qualities of tactile interaction. Nursing Research, 41(2), 82-6.

Weiss, S., Wilson, P., Hertenstein, M., & Campos, R. (2000). The tactile context of a mother's caregiving: Implications for attachment of low birth weight infants. Infant Behavior and Development, 23, 91-111.

Weiss, S., Wilson, P., & Morrison, D. (In Press). Maternal tactile stimulation and the neurodevelopment of low birth weight infants. Infancy.

Weiss, S., Wilson, P., Seed, M., & Paul, S. (2001). Early tactile experience of low birth weight children: Links to later mental health and social adaptation. Infant and Child Development, 10, 93-115.

Wheeden, A., Scafidi, F., Field, T., Ironson, G., Valdeon, C., & Bandsta, E. (1993). Massage effects on cocaine-exposed preterm neonates. Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics, 14, 318-22.

Whitbreck, L., Hoyt, D., Simons, R., Conger, R., Elder, G., Lorenz Jr., F., & Huck, S. (1992). Intergenerational continuity of parental rejection and depressed affect. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 63(6), 1036-45.

Yogman, M. (1987). Father-infant caregiving and play with preterm and full-term infants. In P. Berman & F. Pederson (Eds). Men's transitions to parenthood: Longitudinal studies of early family experience (pp 175-197). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.

Ziajka, A. (1981). Prelinguistic communication in infants, Chap 7, The Tactile-Kinesthetic (Proprioceptive) Model (pp. 93-107). New York: Praeger.

Sandra J. Weiss, Ph.D., D.N.Sc., F.A.A.N. and Peggy Walsh Goebel, R.N., D.N.Sc.

Dr. Weiss is a Professor at the University of California, San Francisco, Department of Community Health Systems. Please address correspondence about this article to:, N 511P, Box 0608, 2 Koret Way, University of California, San Francisco, CA 94143-0608. Dr. Goebel is a Clinical Instructor at Santa Rosa Junior College, Santa Rosa, California.

This research was funded by the NIH, NINR # RO1 NR02698 and the Gerena McGowan Trust.

JOURNAL OF PRENATAL AND PERINATAL PSYCHOLOGY AND HEALTH publishes research and clinical articles from the cutting edge of the science of prenatal and perinatal psychology and health. The journal, published quarterly since 1986, is dedicated to the in-depth exploration human reproduction and pregnancy and the mental and emotional development of the unborn and newborn child.

Join APPPAH for unlimited access to all journals.