Early Literacy Research Library (ELRL) - Article

Dyadic Parent-Infant Interaction Patterns at 12 Months: Exploring Dyadic Parent-Infant Gender Compositions

Siqveland, T.S., Fredriksen, E., Wentzel-Larsen, T., Smith, L., Moe, V. (2022) Dyadic Parent-Infant Interaction Patterns at 12 Months: Exploring Dyadic Parent-Infant Gender Compositions. Infant Mental Health Journal, 43(3), 424-439.,

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Publication year


study description

Community-based prospective cohort study.

core topic(s)

Early Relational Health

Population Characteristics

International , Pregnancy/Postpartum , Toddler/Preschool

Exposures, Outcomes, Other

Child Development (general) , Community , Parent-Child Relationships/Interactions , Play , Validity, Reliability, Feasibility, and Acceptability


The present study aimed to investigate dyadic mother–infant and father–infant interaction patterns in a large low risk community sample from Norway. Consistent with a dyadic construct, dyadic interaction in parent–infant pairs with different parent–gender compositions were also examined.


Semi-Structured infant-caregiver play.

outcomes evaluated

Parent-infant interaction patterns.


All pregnant women who attended routine care during pregnancy at nine well-baby clinics were asked to participate, including their partners. These clinics were selected to ensure geographical diversity and representation of all health regions in Norway.


Data were drawn from a large-scale, population-based Norwegian community sample comprising 671 mother-infant and 337 father-infant interactions. The Early Relational Health Screen (ERHS), a screening method for observing dyadic parent-infant interactions, was used to assess the parent-infant interactions. Scores on the ERHS were employed to investigate dyadic differences in the overall interaction scores, and dyadic interaction on seven sub-dimensions between mother-infant and father-infant pairs. The relation between different parent-infant gender compositions and the dyadic interaction scores was also examined.

sample size

n=1007 (total infant/parent dyads); n=671 (mother dyads); n=337 (father dyads)


Measure of Parent-Infant Interactions: Early Relational Health Screen (ERHS) used to assess the following sub dimensions: engagement, enjoyment, responsiveness, pacing, attention, imitation, initiation.


Measure of Inter-Rater Reliability: A team of five trained and supervised coders scored the taped parent–infant interactions at child age 12 months. The team consisted of students and was trained part-time together as a group. After completing training, they were required to pass a test consisting of seven tapes of parent– infant interactions coded by experts, to achieve satisfactory scores before coding the data material.


Differences between mother-infant and father-infant patterns were generally small, but mother-infant dyads tended to obtain slightly higher scores. The mother-infant dyads received higher scores on the dimensions of engagement and enjoyment, but no other significant differences between the parent-infant pairs were found for the remaining dimensions. We did not find evidence for a moderation effect of child gender. However, parent-daughter dyads received somewhat higher scores than the parent-son dyads.


This study suggests that the ERHS may be used for the assessment of dyadic parent–infant interactions…and further suggests that ERHS might be feasible for assessing parent–child interaction in large research samples.


There is a large discrepancy between the number of mothers and fathers who participated in the present study, and this unequal participation rate may lead to bias. However, logistic regression analyses were used to investigate how non-response may be related to background characteristics. Data were from a community-based sample, and most of the dyads earned scores in the upper-level bordering on a ceiling effect, and possibly indicating a good enough dyadic parent–infant interaction in terms of dyadic mutuality. These values would probably have varied more in socially more divergent groups or in samples including clinical groups. The ERHS method used in present study has previously been little used and needs further validation. The ERHS scoring procedure, assessing the overarching affect prior to scoring the specific dimensions, might have resulted in less nuance in the scoring values. As mentioned above, a one-point score is the highest the parent–dyad could obtain on any of the dyadic dimensions provided a positive overarching affect was not observed.