Shared pleasure in early mother–infant interactions: A study in a high-risk South African sample
Niehaus, Dana J. H.
Jordaan, Esme R.
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Infant mental health is strongly connected to an infant’s relationship with a responsive, warm, and available caregiver. However, maternal mental illness reduces a mother’s ability to detect and respond to changes in her infant’s expressions and communication, which may have important consequences for infant attachment and emotion regulation. The Shared Pleasure (SP) paradigm in parent–infant interactions is defined as ‘the parent and the child sharing positive affect in synchrony’ and is considered to be a possible screening marker for early identification of at-risk dyads. A paucity of data exists for the application of SP as a measurable paradigm in developing countries. This study aimed to evaluate the SP paradigm using women attending a tertiary psychiatric maternal mental health clinic in Cape Town, South Africa. A sample of mothers (N = 78) and young infants (2–6 months old) were assessed for SP moments using video recordings of the dyad in free play. SP moments occurred in only 20.5% of the sample. SP moments were more frequent in younger babies (under 3 months of age).