Antenatal inquiry of 658 parents in the North Staffordshire District Health Authority showed at least 13% to lack knowledge about a baby's potential for personal interaction when under 1 week old. Mothers and fathers varied significantly, independent of parity. Experienced parents expected later smiles. Two hundred and seventy eight of the same families were questioned three to four months after birth. Most parents had observed their baby's early responsiveness. Specific responses (Looking, listening) were noted earlier when anticipated and looked for. Significant among postnatal non-responders was their antenatal selection of predominantly impersonal stimulation for a baby. The greatest degree of warmth noted in postnatal observations correlated notably with a father's antenatal interest and postnatal support from him and their friends, a mother's commitment to breast feeding and her knowledge that a very young baby can see, like faces, and cries for emotional reasons. This highlights areas for antenatal tuition and postnatal encouragement, aiming to enhance warm early mutual regard between parents and child.
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