Communication behaviors of infants of teen mothers. An exploratory study

Document Type


Date of Original Version



Purpose: To study the relationship between motherinfant interaction and an infant's preverbal communication skills among a group of teenage mothers and their infants, 13 teenage mother-infant pairs were videotaped in a free-play setting. The infants were then videotaped in a structured setting, with an examiner, designed to elicit preverbal communication behaviors. Mothers were < 17 years old and from low SES backgrounds. Their infants were 9-12 months old, full-term, first born, and developmentally normal. Methods: Mothers' interactions were assessed from the free-play setting using the Parent-Infant Interaction Scale. The infants' preverbal communication behaviors were measured using the Communication and Symbolic Behavior Scales. Both the frequency of communication behaviors and the range of purposes of these behaviors were assessed. Results: A significant correlation was identified between a mother's interaction scores and the range of purposes for which her infant used communication behaviors (p < 0.01). No correlation was found between maternal interaction scores and the frequency of communication behavior. Conclusions: Infants whose mothers scored poorly on the Parent-Infant Interaction Scale used most of their communication behaviors to demand or protest. Infants from more optimally interacting dyads used communication behaviors for social interaction and commentary as well as to demand or protest. Maternal interaction and an infant's early communication skills appear to be related in this exploratory study. © 1994.

Publication Title, e.g., Journal

Journal of Adolescent Health