Continuous feelings of love? The parental bond from pregnancy to toddlerhood

Evi S.A. de Cock*, Jens Henrichs, Charlotte M.J.M. Vreeswijk, A. Janneke B.M. Maas, Catharina H.A.M. Rijk, Hedwig J.A. van Bakel

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Both prenatal and postnatal parental bonding (i.e., the affective tie from parent to child) have important effects on parental and child functioning. However, research on the continuity and correlates of parental bonding is lacking. Therefore, the goal of the present study was to examine the stability of bonding levels and to explore distinct bonding patterns with a latent class analysis. Moreover, the correlates of these bonding patterns in the parental-, child-, and contextual domain were studied. Levels of maternal (N = 370) and paternal (N = 292) bonding and potential correlates were assessed at 26 weeks of pregnancy, 6 months, and 24 months postpartum. Results showed moderate stability of bonding from pregnancy to toddlerhood. For both mothers and fathers, 4 distinct bonding patterns were found. Parents with low bonding patterns were characterized by increased anxiety and parenting stress, less partner support, less adaptive personality profiles, and children with difficult temperament. These findings indicate the importance of monitoring young children's parents with poor levels of bonding as their bonding patterns remain stable from pregnancy until toddlerhood and because those parents experience problems in multiple domains.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)125-134
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Family Psychology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2016
Externally publishedYes

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