Graduation Year


Document Type

Honors Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



Faculty Advisor

Maria Kalpidou


Postnatal depression, Temperament in children, Fatherhood, Mental health, Family relationships, Infant psychology


Approximately 15% of mothers and 3-5% of fathers experience postpartum depression (DelRosario, 2013). Current literature suggests a negative association between maternal depression and infant development, but little is known about paternal contributions. Field (2010) found that mothers with depressive symptoms at 4 and 8 weeks postpartum reported frequent infant nighttime awakenings and less sleep during the night. Depressed mothers also reported more eating difficulties and lower infant weight gain than nondepressed mothers did (Gress-Smith, 2012). Moreover, infants of depressed mothers expected maternal unavailability and made less effort to engage the mother during the still face experiment (Field, 2002). In this microgenetic study, we examined both maternal and paternal depression and their associations with temperament and multiple indices of development from the last trimester to 3 months postpartum. At both times the parents completed the CES-D to assess mood changes (CESD; Radloff, 1977). At 3 months they completed questionnaires about infants’ temperament and various infant outcomes. Infants and mothers also participated in the still face experiment (play for 3 minutes, still face for 2 minutes, recovery for 3 minutes). Depression of both parents in both time periods predicted infant communication milestones. Prenatal maternal depression scores were associated with fewer hours of sleeping during the night, a later bedtime, and more eating difficulties at 3 months. Fathers' depression was related with lower gross motor skills whereas mothers’ depression was related with lower fine motor skills at 3 months. Prenatal and postnatal maternal depression predicted negative affect. Further, infants of nondepressed mothers used more gestures to engage mothers during the still face. Altogether, the findings demonstrate parental depression relates to multiple infant outcomes at 3 months, highlighting the need for longer longitudinal studies.