The influence of parents, older siblings, and non-parental care on infant development at nine months of age

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Abstract

Background: The majority of research examining the influence of social environment on early child development suggests benefits to two-parent households, but contradictory evidence for the effects of siblings. The aims of the present study were to examine the influence of the child's proximal social environment, and the effects of interactions between socioeconomic status and social environment on developmental outcomes.

Methods: Primary caregivers of a representative sample of 10,748 nine-month-old infants in Ireland completed the Ages and Stages Questionnaire and provided information on social environment. Adjustment was made for infant and maternal characteristics, household income, and area where the child was living at the time of the study. Further analyses tested for interactions between social environment and household income.

Results: Binary logistic regressions indicated no effects for number of parents in the household. However, the presence of siblings in the household was a consistent predictor of failing to reach milestones in communication, gross motor, problem-solving, and personal-social development. Furthermore, there was a gradient of increasing likelihood of failing in gross motor, problem-solving, and personal-social development with increasing numbers of siblings. Care by a grandparent decreased the likelihood of failing in communication and personal-social development.

Conclusions:These findings do not support the majority of research that finds positive benefits for two-parent households. Similarly, the findings suggest limited effects for non-parental care. However, the observed negative effects of siblings support both the confluence and resource dilution models of sibling effect. Examination of follow-up data may elucidate current findings.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)546-555
Number of pages10
JournalInfant behavior & development
Volume37
Issue number4
Early online date23 Jul 2014
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2014

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