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Failure to thrive, Infant Behavior, Mother-Child Relations, Play and Playthings



  1. Steward, Deborah K. PhD, RN


Purpose: To examine the behavioral responses of infants with nonorganic failure to thrive (NOFTT) during play interactions with their mothers.


Design: Comparative descriptive.


Methods: The sample consisted of 31 infants; 17 with nonorganic failure to thrive (NOFTT) and 16 matched healthy controls. The infants were videotaped during a play interaction with their mothers. The behaviors exhibited by the infants were scored with the Parent-Child Early Relational Assessment. The environmental context of the play interaction was also rated for how play was initiated, maternal involvement, and the presence of chaos.


Results: Infants with NOFTT exhibited more difficult behaviors during play such as more negative affect, less vocalizing, and more gaze aversion. Mothers of the infants with NOFTT were less likely to remain involved during the play interaction. The environments of the infants with NOFTT were also found to be more chaotic during play.


Clinical Implications: Assessment of the infant-mother interaction during play may provide insight into the interactions that occur during other caretaking activities. Strategies could be developed to assist the mother with interacting with her difficult infant. Future research could lead to interventions that could help improve the dynamics of the infant-mother interaction in infants with NOFTT.