Date on Senior Honors Thesis


Document Type

Senior Honors Thesis

Degree Name



Psychological and Brain Sciences

Degree Program

College of Arts and Sciences

Author's Keywords

infant; mother-infant interactions; depression; stress; anxiety


The aim of this study was to examine the relationship between mothers' negative emotional symptoms (depression, anxiety, and stress) and mother-infant interactions during the COVID-19 pandemic. Data were collected in the early months of the pandemic, when daycares were closed, through an online survey of parents and infants. Participants included 54 mothers of infants 3-34 months of age living in Kentucky. Well-being was measured with the Depression, Anxiety, and Stress Scale – 21 (DASS 21). Questions related to parent-infant interactions included time spent interacting with the infants by reading, singing, playing freely with no set goal, engaging in a meaningful way through play and direct conversation, and speaking about feelings and emotions. Correlations were conducted on the well-being measures and mother-infant interactions. Results revealed statistically significant correlations between anxiety and four of the mother-infant interactive behaviors— reading, singing, engaging meaningfully, and speaking about emotions. No significant correlations were found for maternal depression or stress. The present findings indicate that slightly higher levels of anxiety within the normal range may impact how mothers interact with their infants. These results suggest that special care should be given to mothers’ well-being during the pandemic.