This short-term longitudinal study assessed the degree to which the frequency of fathers' visits with their preterm infants in the hospital was associated with the quality of ongoing and long-term fathering and infant development. Data on fathering and infant development were collected during the hospital stay, at discharge, at 8 months of age, and at 18 months of age, using both questionnaires and observational schedules. The frequency of visits was significantly correlated with more extensive and positive patterns of fathering at discharge and later periods. It was also associated with more positive perceptions of the infant, as well as with weight gain during hospitalization and psychosocial aspects of later infant development during the first 18 months. The discussion emphasized possible ways in which early paternal contact in the hospital might influence fathers, mothers, and infants. The frequency of paternal visits was highlighted as a variable useful in predicting high-risk parenting.
- Received May 19, 1989.
- Accepted January 17, 1990.
- Copyright © 1990 by the American Academy of Pediatrics