Differential sucking by neonates of depressed versus non-depressed mothers

Maria Hernandez-Reif, Tiffany Field, Miguel Diego

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Forty-two neonates (M = 39-h old) of depressed and non-depressed mothers sucked on cold (50 °F) and warm (78 °F) nipples on alternating trials. Half the infants received the cold nipple on the first of the eight trials (20 s each) and the other half received the warm nipple first. Neonates of depressed mothers sucked twice as much as neonates of non-depressed mothers, suggesting arousal dysregulation, overactivity or greater hedonic behavior in the newborns of depressed mothers. Although the newborns did not show a preference for cold or warm nipples, a temperature order effect revealed that neonates who received the cold nipple on the first trial sucked significantly more on trials 2-8 than those who received the warm nipple on the first trial, suggesting that an initially cold nipple might elicit greater sucking. More research is needed on maternal mood effects and temperature of objects to determine how these factors affect neonatal sucking behaviors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)465-476
Number of pages12
JournalInfant Behavior and Development
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2004


  • Depressed, sucking, infant
  • Neonate

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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