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Respond with Sensitivity

Caregiver sensitive responsiveness is considered a central characteristic in healthy parenting, parent-child relationships, and child development. Responsiveness itself is a component of sensitivity, and attachment literature is interested in the patterns of caregiver sensitivity and responsiveness that meet or fail to meet a child’s need for a secure base.

Though sensitivity is generally associated with observational assessments of mothers and infants, researchers explore a variety of settings and caregivers. Evidence continues to demonstrate that sensitivity can be successfully promoted through a variety of caring behaviors that benefit children and families in nearly every circumstance. Because caregiver sensitivity is impacted by stress, emotions and even breastfeeding, we gain more insight about the influences on and the support of parental sensitivity from this research.

Fathers are just as good as mothers at recognizing the cries of their baby

Gustafsson, E., Levréro, F., Reby, D., & Mathevon, N. (2013). Fathers are just as good as mothers at recognizing the cries of their baby. Nature Communications , 4, 1698.


Oxytocin administration alters HPA reactivity in the context of parent-infant interaction

Weisman, O., Zagoory-Sharon, O., & Feldman, R. (2013). Oxytocin administration alters HPA reactivity in the context of parent–infant interaction. European Neuropsychopharmacology23(12), 1724-1731.

Predictors of Maternal Sensitivity to Infant Distress

A mother’s emotional goals predicted her sensitivity to infant distress more so than her own emotional reaction. In addition, her prenatal ability to detect an unfamiliar infant’s distress was associated with more maternal sensitivity with her own infant.