Mind-mindedness and parenting stress: A cross-sectional study in a cohort of mothers of 3-month-old full-term and preterm infants

Chiara Suttora, Maria Spinelli, Tiziana Aureli, Mirco Fasolo, Francesca Lionetti, Odoardo Picciolini, Maura Ravasi, Nicoletta Salerni

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The preterm birth of a child is a sudden event that can disturb the overall family system and its functioning. Many studies have been conducted with the aim of exploring how and the degree to which this event affects the early mother–infant dyadic relationship and maternal well-being, with often mixed findings. The present study investigates the combined effect of preterm birth and parenting stress on mind-mindedness, a parenting dimension that captures how parents represent and treat their children as separate individuals with their own mental states and activities. A hundred and ten mothers and their three-month-old infants (preterm = 54; full-term = 56) participated in the study. Mind-mindedness was assessed by coding mothers’ comments about infant’s mental states during dyadic face-to-face interaction. Parenting stress was evaluated with the Parenting Stress Index Short Form questionnaire. Mothers of preterm infants reported similar levels of appropriate and non-attuned mind-related comments to mothers of full-term infants. The reported parenting stress levels were also comparable. Interestingly, only mothers of preterm infants who reported higher stress in parenting showed more non-attuned comments during the interaction. The results underline the need to address preterm birth as a complex event, going beyond group differences and considering its interplay with other risk or protective factors in shaping children’s and parents’ adjustments and well-being.

Original languageEnglish
Article number7735
Number of pages14
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue number21
Publication statusPublished - Nov 1 2020


  • Mind-mindedness
  • Mother–infant interaction
  • Parenting
  • Parenting stress
  • Preterm birth

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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