So says a new study, which followed babies from the age of eight months right through into adulthood. It found that children who were exposed to plenty of love and affection from their mothers were better able to cope with stressful situations as adults. They also tended to display less anxiety and better social skills than those who had been brought up with less affection.
The researchers, based at Duke University in North Carolina, rated the relationships of 482 eight-month-old babies with their mothers during routine developmental assessments.
They looked at how well their mothers coped with their child's developmental tests and how she responded to the child's performance.
The amount of affection and attention mothers gave to their children was categorised into groups ranging from 'negative' to ' extravagant'. Mental health was then assessed when the babies had grown up, at the average age of 34. Adults whose mothers had been the most affectionate (or 'extravagant') during their assessment as babies had the lowest levels of anxiety, hostility and general distress.