Infants’ stress responses and protest behaviors at childcare entry and the role of care providers

Lieselotte Ahnert (Korresp. Autor*in), Tina Eckstein-Madry, Bernhard Piskernik, Steve Porges, Michael Edward Lamb

Veröffentlichungen: Beitrag in FachzeitschriftArtikelPeer Reviewed


During the transition from home to childcare, 70 15-month-old infants were videotaped, and their negative emotions were rated. Infants’ attachments to mothers were assessed prior to child care entry and to care providers five months later using the Strange Situation Procedure (SSP). Infant heart rate was monitored at home, during adaptation to childcare (mothers present), and during subsequent separations. Respiratory sinus arrhythmia (RSA) was computed from the beat-to-beat measures of heart rate to reflect vagal tone, which is reduced during chronic states of stress, and was collected upon Arrival, during in-group Play, and when in the Group more generally. All infants responded to childcare entry with low RSA levels indicating stress. However, during adaptation with the mother present, RSA was higher for securely attached infants. On the first separation day, 35.3% of the infants fussed and cried extensively. These intense protests predicted later secure attachments to care providers, which adaptively helped to reduce stress, especially in infants who protested extensively, as if summoning their mothers back. Because extensive protest suggests limited regulatory capacities, infants risk overburdening the stress system when left unsupported.

FachzeitschriftDevelopmental Psychology
PublikationsstatusVeröffentlicht - Sep. 2021

ÖFOS 2012

  • 501005 Entwicklungspsychologie