There is a close correlation between a woman's ability to interpret and respond to an infant's signals and the emergence of secure bonding between them.

Photo credit: Jane KhomiInfants of women with this ability are more likely to bond naturally. Infants of women who are insensitive to such signals and prioritise their own desires and moods have a greater tendency to develop uncertain bonding. A preterm infant may be less capable than others of communicating clear signals. Furthermore, observing such signals is more difficult when the infant is in an incubator, or when wrapped in blankets to remain warm and feel safe and secure. Parental stress, the absence of physical intimacy and trouble interpreting signals have a detrimental impact on parent-child interactions, further interfering with the infant's vulnerable emotional and cognitive development.

The overall aim of this study is to improve neonatal intensive care to promote and raise the quality of parent-child interactions in order to strengthen the prospects of normal physical, cognitive, social and emotional development among preterm infants.

Method: prospective randomised study combined with processing of qualitative data


External partners

Nadia Reissland


  • Faculty of Science, Durham University United Kingdom