Association for Behavior Analysis International

The Association for Behavior Analysis International® (ABAI) is a nonprofit membership organization with the mission to contribute to the well-being of society by developing, enhancing, and supporting the growth and vitality of the science of behavior analysis through research, education, and practice.


45th Annual Convention; Chicago, IL; 2019

Event Details

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Symposium #133
CE Offered: BACB — 
Evaluating Strategies for Improving Early Infant Care
Saturday, May 25, 2019
5:00 PM–5:50 PM
Swissôtel, Event Center Second Floor, Vevey 3/4
Area: CBM/DEV; Domain: Translational
Chair: Rika Ortega (ABAI)
CE Instructor: Joshua Jessel, Ph.D.
Abstract: Infant care can often be stressful for parents of a newborn child. In addition, the early stages of development for the infant pose many unique risks (e.g., sudden infant death syndrome). Parents should be educated on those risks and trained to implement appropriate care to avoid possible harm and support normal growth. Study 1 evaluated infant moral judgement by presenting infants with options to choose from puppets that expressed interests in similar or opposite preferences with the participant. Contrary to previous work, the repeated opportunities to select the differing puppets in the concurrent arrangement did not support the notion that infants tend to prefer prosocial or similar companions. Strategies for reducing tantrums during tummy time were evaluated in Study 2. A preference assessment was developed using the percentage of eye contact with individually presented items to select preferred items to use during tummy time. Although there was marked improvement in head elevation and eliminations of tantrums regardless of the value of the item, social validity measures indicated that parents tended to favor using the more-preferred items during tummy time. Study 3 developed a video intended to disseminate knowledge on safe infant sleep practices and tummy time. A significant improvement in knowledge in the pretest/posttest arrangement was obtained with current and expectant parents who watched the video. All studies support the notion that behavior analytic technology can improve early infant care.
Instruction Level: Basic
Keyword(s): Caregiver education, infant care, moral judgment, tummy time
Target Audience: BCBAs, BCBA-Ds, BCaBAs, licensed psychologists, and other behavior analytic providers who need to learn how to care for infants.

Do Infants Make Moral Judgments?: Investigating Other Probable Explanations

(Applied Research)
CAROLYNN S. KOHN (University of the Pacific), Amir Cruz-Khalili (University of the Pacific), Katrina Michele Ruiz Bettencourt (University of the Pacific), Tyler Nighbor (University of Vermont), Matthew P. Normand (University of the Pacific), Henry D. Schlinger (California State University, LA)

3. Research employing single choice paradigms suggest infants show a preference for prosocial others and those who are similar to themselves. This study (two experiments, N = 44 infants, aged 8 to 15 months) replicated and extended previous work by including (a) within-subject repeated measures and (b) an experimental manipulation of a plausible demand characteristic. In both experiments, (a) infants chose between two foods, (b) watched a puppet show in which one puppet expressed a liking for one of the foods and a disliking for the other food followed by a second puppet who expressed the opposite preferences, and (c) chose between the two puppets. Results for the first-choice trial indicated a majority of infants did not choose the puppet who liked the same food as the infant (i.e., the similar puppet). Within-subject repeated trials also indicated a majority of infants did not choose the similar puppet but a majority did choose a puppet presented on the same side. Findings suggest infants may not display very early preferences, for similar others and supports recommendations made by others, including publishing null findings, standardizing data collection and reporting methods, and examining individual differences by employing within-subject designs with repeated measures.


Improving Tummy Time for Infants and Caregivers: A Treatment Comparison With Social Validation

(Applied Research)
RIKA ORTEGA (Queens College), Daniel Mark Fienup (Columbia University), Joshua Jessel (Queens College), Antoinette Morea (Queens College)

Tummy time is an activity intended to strengthen infant motor development by placing them in a prone position. However, many infants may find this time aversive, often evoking noncompliant behavior and tantrums. Previous studies have used preferred tangible items during tummy time to reduce challenging behavior and improve head elevation. We extended this previous research by comparing the effects of a more-preferred stimulus (i.e., toy penguin) in comparison to a less-preferred stimulus (i.e., mother attention alone) selected from a preference assessment with two typically developing infants. During the preference assessment, items were placed to the side of the infants’ sight while they were seated in a comfortable position and the percentage of eye contact with each item was used to establish a hierarchy of preference. During the treatment comparison, the infant was placed in the prone position and the items were situated just above the infants’ view to ensure that seeing the item required holding the head up. Although both treatments improved head elevation and reduced tantrums, the caregiver selected the treatment using the more-preferred stimulus during a concurrent-chains preference assessment.


Implications and Future Directions for Educating Caregivers About Infant Safe Sleep and Tummy Time

(Applied Research)
AMBER E. MENDRES-SMITH (University of Maryland, School of Medicine), John C. Borrero (University of Maryland, Baltimore County), Mariana I. Castillo (UMBC), Barbara J. Davis (Ann Storck Center), Jessica Becraft (Kennedy Krieger Institute), Shuyan Sun (University of Maryland, Baltimore County), Alison Falck (University of Maryland, School of Medicine), Suhagi Kadakia (University of Maryland, School of Medicine)

Annually, approximately 3,500 infants die suddenly and unexpectedly in the United States, and many of these deaths are due to unsafe sleep positioning or environments (Centers for Disease Control, 2018). To promote safe sleeping and infant development, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that caregivers put infants on their backs for sleep and on their stomachs to play, known as “tummy time.” In this study, we evaluated the effectiveness of an educational video on 120 current and expectant parents’ knowledge of the AAP’s positioning recommendations. The video was associated with a significant improvement in participants’ knowledge from pre- to post-test. We also identified that participants’ reasons for positioning their babies unsafely for sleep and for limiting tummy time was largely associated with infant intolerance. In this presentation, I will: (a) discuss the implications of our results and the role of behavior analysis in addressing infant safe-sleep and tummy-time behavior and (b) describe a new intervention to teach parents of high-risk, hospitalized premature infants about safe sleep and tummy time.




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