Notre Dame Families and Babies Study (ND-FABS)

The National Institute of Health has awarded a three million-dollar research grant to Drs. Julie Braungart Rieker, E. Mark Cummings, and Lijuan Wang of the William J. Shaw Center for Children and Families at the University of Notre Dame. This project is an attempt by the Shaw Center to reach out to families of infants in order to support parental relationships, and to foster development during the early stages of life. The goal of this program is to integrate the research Dr. Braungart Rieker on infant development and the important role of fathers in children’s lives, with Dr. Cummings’ focus on family conflict and children’s emotional security.

The Notre Dame Families and Babies Study (ND-FABS) provides brief educational programs for families that have recently welcomed a new baby. Families who participate will have opportunities to learn about communication between parents and sensitivity toward infants, and how those things can impact the relationships between fathers and mothers and their infant child. We know that stress and conflict can be significantly heightened in the months and years following the birth of a child. We also know that both conflict between parents and the quality of interactions between parents and their children can have a significant impact on children’s socioemotional development over time, even when children are very young; the main goal of this study is to determine how best to support infants’ socioemotional development by promoting constructive and sensitive interactions in families.

The Notre Dame Family and Babies Study is actively recruiting participants in South Bend and Fort Wayne, IN and the surrounding areas. Eligible participants are parents of an infant who is younger than 7 months old. Families could earn up to $230 for their participation over the course of one year.

For more information about this project and other research conducted at the Shaw Center, email: or call 574-631-0950.