Loyola University Maryland

Emerging Scholars

Alyssa DeGrace, Rachel L. Grover, Ph.D., Jason Prenoveau, Ph.D., Ellie Brown, Ph.D.

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Daycare Giver Responses to Crying: Associations with Infant Age and Gender

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The Early Childhood Cognitions and Emotions Lab (ECCEL) at West Chester University of Pennsylvania (WCU) is dedicated to contributing to the cognitive and emotional health and wellbeing of young children by performing research that supports healthy development. Researchers and research assistants on this team created a study known as the Young Children’s Crying in Daycare study to explore infant cries, stress levels, and caregiver responses. As a preliminary study in this larger project, the current proposal seeks to examine the “typical” responses of daycare caregivers to infant crying. Once enrolled in a partner daycare, infants in the study are observed by research assistants and daycare providers responses to instances of crying are coded (e.g., pacifier, diaper change, physical contact). Children in this study (N = 20 infants currently, but participant recruitment is ongoing) attend West Chester Area Daycare Center and are between the ages of two months and two years. Participants are expected to be primarily African American, Caucasian or Latino/a, and two-thirds of these children come from low income (or below) households.

The study will be both descriptive and non-experimental in design. As there is currently little research on daycare providers’ responses to infant cries, the study will first present overall descriptive data on the frequency of different types of daycare responses to infant cries. In addition, the current study will also include hypotheses of how gender and age may be related to daycare worker responses to crying . Results of this study will add to the limited research in the area of daycare caregiver responses to crying. Future research from the ECCEL will investigate infant stress responses in daycare settings and how daycare workers responses may ameliorate or add to infant stress. At the end of this series of studies, the results may aid in our understanding of best practice (versus common practice) in daycare settings. This could potentially lead to appropriate changes in caregiver training and possibly state legislation on daycare teacher requirements.