Child Care and Early Education Research Connections

Skip to main content

Early child care experiences and attachment representations at age 18 years: Evidence from the NICHD study of early child care and youth development


The role of early child care experiences on the development of the mother–child attachment relationship has been studied extensively. However, no prospective studies of early child care have addressed how these experiences might be reflected in the content of attachment representations during adolescence and beyond. The goal of this study was to estimate relatively precise associations between child care quality, child care quantity, and type of care in the first 54 months of life and the content of adolescents’ attachment representations around age 18 years (N = 857; 51% female; 78% White, non-Hispanic; mean income-to-needs ratio = 4.13), leveraging data from the longitudinal National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) study of Early Child Care and Youth Development. We identified a small positive association between the observed quality of early child care (but not quantity or type of care) and secure attachment states of mind as measured by the Adult Attachment Interview (but not the Attachment Script Assessment) at age 18 years that was robust to demographic covariates and observations of maternal and paternal sensitivity during childhood. We observed no significant interactions among child care variables. Associations between early child care experiences and indicators of adolescent attachment were likewise not moderated by maternal sensitivity from infancy to midadolescence or by maternal reports of child temperament in early childhood. (author abstract)

Resource Type:
Reports & Papers
United States

Related resources include summaries, versions, measures (instruments), or other resources in which the current document plays a part. Research products funded by the Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation are related to their project records.

- You May Also Like

These resources share similarities with the current selection.

Annual price of care: 2022 child care affordability

Interactive Tools

Annual child care landscape analysis: 2022 child care supply: National trends

Interactive Tools

Total federal TANF & state MOE expenditures for child care & early learning in FY 2021


Worthy work, STILL unlivable wages: The early childhood workforce 25 years after the National Child Care Staffing Study

Reports & Papers
Release: 'v1.28.0' | Built: 2023-04-17 15:59:38 EDT