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01-03-2017 | Original Paper | Uitgave 6/2017

Journal of Child and Family Studies 6/2017

Effects of Early Parenting Interventions on Parents and Infants: A Meta-Analytic Review

Journal of Child and Family Studies > Uitgave 6/2017
Mandy Mihelic, Alina Morawska, Ania Filus


This systematic review evaluates the efficacy of parenting interventions on parent, infant and parent-infant relationship outcome measures for parents of infants under 12 months old. Parent outcomes examined included competence, and confidence; baby outcomes included infant behaviours of crying, settling, and sleeping problems and parent-infant relationship outcomes included parental responsiveness. Systematic searches of five databases were carried out. In total, 36 randomised controlled trials over the past 35 years were included in the meta-analyses, with a total of 4880 participants. Interventions were carried out either during pregnancy or within the first 12 months after birth and involved teaching specific strategies and provision of information on infant development and behaviour. Mean effect sizes were obtained using a structural equation modelling (SEM) approach to meta-analysis. Heterogeneity was found on parent responsiveness and infant sleep. Potential moderator variables were assessed for these two outcomes using the SEM approach. Results showed that early parenting interventions are effective in improving parental responsiveness (d = 0.77), and improving or preventing infant sleep problems (d = 0.24), but not crying problems (d = 0.27) possibly due to low power. No conclusions could be drawn in regards to parental competence or confidence. Moderator analysis showed that for interventions aimed at improving responsiveness, briefer interventions were more effective than longer ones; and studies published more recently reported smaller effects than older studies. No other moderators influenced the assessed intervention outcomes. The findings of this study provide further evidence for the positive effects of early parenting interventions for infants under 12 months of age, however future research is needed to assess intervention effects on parental competence and confidence.

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