Linking child care to infant attachment : what lies in-between?
Objectives: To investigate the relationship between maternal separation
anxiety, hours in non-maternal child care and security of motherinfant
attachment in early infancy.
Methods: The participants for this study were 67 mothers and their infants
enrolled in a large scale prospective study. The first 100
women were sent a letter outlining the current study and
requested to 'opt in'. Those mothers who agreed to participate
completed the Maternal Separation Anxiety Scale (MSAS) when
the infant was ten and seventeen months. The mother-infant
attachment relationship was assessed according to the
standardised Strange Situation Procedure when the infant was
aged seventeen months (+/- two weeks). All other data were
collected in the main study.
Results: Maternal Separation Anxiety was not predictive (alone or in
combination with other variables) of attachment status.
Significant differences in levels of separation anxiety were found
between mothers who were and mothers who were not employed outside the home. Separation anxiety was also
related to a number of variables, including the age of the infant
when the mother planned to use non-maternal child care, the
total hours of non-maternal child care, infant temperament and
Conclusions: The non-significant results in the main analysis mean that no
firm conclusions regarding a relationship between levels of
maternal separation anxiety, hours in non-maternal child care
and security of mother-infant attachment in infancy can be
drawn. Future research (with a larger and more diverse sample)
should continue to explore the concept of maternal separation
anxiety in relation to a number of other variables, including
maternal role preference and quality of child care, as it may hold
important implications for social policy and preventative clinical