Mother–infant co‐regulation in dyadic and triadic
contexts at 4 and 6 months of age
Maria Concetta Garito
Department of Neuroscience and Imaging,
DNI, University of Chieti‐Pescara, Pescara,
Department of Psychology of Development
and Socialization Processes, Roma, “La
Sapienza”, Rome, Italy
Tiziana Aureli, Department of Neuroscience
and Imaging, DNI, University of Chieti‐Pescara,
This study examined interpersonal co‐regulation in 80 mother–infant
dyads when interacting face‐to‐face and with an object, at the infant
ages of 4 and 6 months. We found that co‐regulation patterns
differed between conditions and with development. Under the
dyadic condition, the dyads were mostly unilateral, with only the
mother attending to the infant's focus, while in the triadic context,
they were mostly symmetrical, with both mother and infant mutually
engaged. While confirming previous studies showing that interper-
sonal co‐ordination is a relatively rare event in face‐to‐face
exchanges, this result shows that the contrary is instead true when
objects are available. Also, unilateral co‐regulation significantly
increased in the triadic context from 4 to 6 months, together with
an increase in the active role of the infant during symmetrical
exchanges. The development of manipulative skills that occurred
during this age period might have promoted these co‐regulation
changes, through improvement of the infant activities with objects,
both independently and with the mother. Finally, involvement in
triadic interactions appears to relate to temperamental aspects, being
favoured by the infant's disposition to be soothed by the caregiver.
Overall, our results support the view of early social development as
a context‐based and multidimensional process.
• Investigation of how mothers and infants co‐regulate in face‐to‐face
interactions and with toys in the first 6 months of life.
• Eighty mother–infant dyads are observed longitudinally in dyadic
and triadic interactions at 4 and 6 months of age.
• Social‐mediated object exchanges favour symmetrical co‐regulation
in early mother–infant interactions, whereas unilateral co‐regulation
prevails in face‐to‐face contexts.
face‐to‐face and with toys interactions, interpersonal co‐regulation
patterns, temperament and co‐regulation relationship
Received: 9 October 2016 Revised: 21 October 2017 Accepted: 29 October 2017
Inf Child Dev. 2018;27:e2072.
Copyright © 2017 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.wileyonlinelibrary.com/journal/icd 1of14