Familial factors associated with the characteristics of nonmaternal care for infants

Mark Appelbaum, Dee Ann Batten, Jay Belsky, Cathryn Booth, Robert Bradley, Celia Brownell, Bettye Caldwell, Susan Campbell, Alison Clarke-Stewart, Jeffrey Cohn, Martha Cox, Kaye Fendt, Sarah Friedman, Wendy Goldberg, Ellen Greenberger, Kathryn Hirsh-Pasek, Aletha Huston, Nancy Marshall, Kathleen McCartney, Marion O'BrienMargaret Tresch Owen, Deborah Phillips, Henry Ricciuti, Susan Spieker, Deborah Lowe Vandell, Marsha Weinraub

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

183 Scopus citations


The extent to which family, economic, and psychosocial factors account for age of initiation, amount, type, and quality of nonmaternal infant care was examined for 1,281 children in 10 locations around the U.S. Families were enrolled in the study when the infants were born, and information was collected about naturally occurring patterns of regular nonmaternal care over the first 15 months of the child's life. Economic factors were most consistently associated with the amount and the nature of the nonmaternal care that infants received; maternal personality and beliefs about maternal employment also were factors. Infants who began nonmaternal care between 3 and 5 months of age had mothers who scored highest on extraversion and agreeableness. Children who began nonmaternal care earlier had mothers who believed that maternal employment had greater benefits for children. More nonmaternal care was related to fewer children in the family, lower maternal education, higher maternal income, lower total family income, longer hours of maternal employment, and the mother's belief in the benefits of maternal employment. The type of care was related to the child's ethnicity, household composition, and the mother's concerns about the risks of maternal employment to children. Factors predicting the quality of care varied across different types of care. For care in the child's home or in a childcare home, family income was positively associated with quality. For care in child-care centers, children from both low-and high-income families received higher quality care than those from moderate-income families. These results define the potentially confounding factors to be considered when analyzing the effects of early experiences of nonmaternal care on child outcome.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)389-408
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Marriage and Family
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 1997
Externally publishedYes


  • Child care
  • Coparental care
  • Infant care
  • Selection factors

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anthropology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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