USA: ‘Good enough’ parenting is good enough

05 July 2019

Caregivers need only ‘get it right’ 50% of the time when responding to a baby’s need for attachment to have a positive impact on a baby, new research finds.


Lead researcher Susan Woodhouse, from Lehigh University, Pennsylvania, studied 83 low socioeconomic-status mothers and infants with high levels of temperamental irritability, at ages 4.5 months, seven months, nine months and 12 months.

Researchers scored mother-baby pairs to assess the qualities of ‘secure base provision’. This looked at the degree to which a parent, on average, soothes a crying infant to a fully calm state while in chest-to-chest contact. When the infant was not distressed, researchers studied whether the caregiver allowed exploration to occur.

The findings, published in Child Development, show that babies learned their mothers were providing a ‘secure base’ when mothers responded properly at least 50% of the time.

Susan said: ‘You don’t have to be perfect, you just have to be good enough.’ 

Image credit | iStock