Babies thrive in groups, new CSU book outlines
The Sector > Research > New book from CSU academics shows that babies enjoy being in groups

New book from CSU academics shows that babies enjoy being in groups

by Freya Lucas

February 13, 2024

Charles Sturt University (CSU) Emeritus Professor Ben Bradley and co-authors Dr Jane Selby and Mr Matthew Stapleton have written a new book which challenges current early childhood education and care (ECEC) policies, practices and assumptions underpinning notions about ‘single infant-adult attachment’ for healthy development.


The book Babies in Groups will be launched in Sydney on Tuesday 27 February, and shows that babies find sustained pleasure in engagement with groups “long before they have formed their first one-to-one bond with an adult.”


The book has implications for science, early education practice and policy, and for adult psychotherapy.


Both Professor Bradley and Dr Selby, a clinical psychologist, are adjuncts in Charles Sturt’s School of Psychology, while Mr Stapleton is CEO of Centre Support, a company that supports the operations of many long day care services in Australia.


Babies in Groups shows that appreciating the true complexity of infants’ social lives depends on prolonged observation and rich descriptions of free-form infants-only group-behaviour, Professor Bradly explained. 


To gather this evidence the researchers filmed in two high quality ECEC settings, showing the “transformative effects of prioritising group arrangements across many settings – infant mealtimes, learning and play – both for babies and for educators.”


Based on this evidence the authors claim that current ECEC policies, clinical practices and professional assumptions about parenting, ECEC and healthy development are mistaken in giving primary importance to infants’ one-to-one attachments’ to adults.


They show that these assumptions “are not based on good science,” and have “misogynistic and culturally inappropriate consequences.”

The book summarises the several sources of evidence which “falsify claims” that science proves an inborn gift for dyadic communication, or for forming one-to-one infant-adult attachments, that grounds human development.


Babies in Groups is published by Oxford University Press and will be launched at 5pm on Tuesday 27 February at 47/52-60 Renwick St, Redfern, Sydney (corner of Renwick and Wells Streets).


To register to attend the launch please RSVP to Mr Matthew Stapleton at [email protected] 


The authors have also made the book available for a free download, which may be accessed here.

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