Responses to infant-directed singing in infants of mothers with depressive symptoms

Shannon K. De L'Etoile

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


This study explored responses to infant-directed (ID) singing in infants of mothers with and without depressive symptoms under two conditions: mother sings to infant, and stranger sings to infant. Sixteen, 3-9-month-old infants of mothers with depression were matched by age and gender to sixteen infants of mothers without depression. Infant gaze responses toward each singer were coded from video and ranged from most negative to most positive, in the order of roaming, averted, neutral, intermittent and sustained. Mothers' depression status had no effect on infant gaze response toward ID singing from mother or stranger. During ID singing from mother, infants displayed high levels of either neutral or sustained gaze. In response to ID singing from strangers, infants demonstrated sustained gazes more than any other gaze type. Infants also showed significantly more roaming and neutral gaze toward mother than stranger, and used significantly more averted and sustained gaze with stranger than mother. Findings indicate that infants of depressed mothers did not display a depressed interaction style with their mother or with a stranger during ID singing. Additionally, infants in both groups appeared capable of discriminating their mother from a stranger. ID singing appears to enhance face-to-face interaction such that infants can experience self-regulation, even when mothers have depression. Findings support the idea of combining ID singing and interaction coaching as a therapeutic intervention for mothers with depression and their infants.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)353-366
Number of pages14
JournalArts in Psychotherapy
Issue number5
StatePublished - Nov 2012


  • Infant gaze
  • Infant self-regulation
  • Infant-directed singing
  • Maternal depression

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Professions (miscellaneous)
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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