Summary

Parents influence their infants directly by means of their genes, beliefs, and behaviors as well as indirectly by means of their influences on one another and the multiple contexts in which they live. Out of the dynamic range and complexity of individual activities that constitute parenting infants, major domains of parent-infant interaction have been distinguished: They include nurturing, interacting socially, stimulating cognitively, and provisioning the environment. These domains are conceptually separable but fundamentally integral, and each is developmentally significant. The attitudes parents hold about their infants and the activities they engage them in are each meaningful to the development of babies. Mothers typically take more responsibility for and engage in infant caregiving more than do fathers, but fathers play complementary and signal roles. Parent-provided experiences affect infants by different mechanisms of action, but tend to follow principles of specificity and transaction.

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