Carolyn Dayton

Research Project Title

Singing to Babies in Motown!: The Detroit Lullaby Study    
Baby on Board!: The WSU Early Parenting Study    


Carolyn Joy Dayton, PhD, LP, LMSW, IMH-E R/F, holds joint appointments at the School of Social Work where she is an Associate Professor and at the Merrill Palmer Skillman Institute for Child and Family Development where she serves as the Associate Director of the Infant Mental Health (IMH) Program ( The IMH program provides specialized, multidisciplinary training in early intervention with the families of infants, toddlers and young children. The program focuses on the development of clinical skills that allow the practitioner to promote healthy social emotional development in young children using a culturally informed approach to service delivery (

Dayton conducts research focused on early parenting processes with an emphasis on fathering in urban settings ( She is engaged in policy initiatives aimed at revising state and local policies that disproportionately and negatively affect poor, urban fathers. As an Infant Mental Health Specialist, Dayton has over two decades of experience providing clinical interventions to the families of infants and young children in a wide range of settings including home-based, center-based and hospital programs. Dayton is a licensed practitioner of clinical social work and clinical psychology and is endorsed as an infant mental health mentor (Level IV; MI-AIMH; in the areas of clinical practice and research. Dayton's program of research is fundamentally translational and transdisciplinary; it is informed by her clinical work with families and aims to identify biological and psychosocial risk and resilience factors that influence parenting processes and early child development.


  • PhD, Clinical Psychology, Michigan State University
  • Graduate Certificate in Infant Mental Health, University of Michigan
  • MA, Michigan State University
  • MSW, University of Michigan
  • BA, Kalamazoo College


MICHR Postdoctoral Translational Scholars Fellowship. Department of Psychiatry, University of Michigan. Ann Arbor, MI. 2011-2012

Postdoctoral Research Fellowship. Department of Psychology, Developmental Area. University of Michigan. Ann Arbor, MI. 2010-2011

APPIC Postdoctoral Clinical Fellowship. Institute for Human Adjustment. University of Michigan. Ann Arbor, MI. 2008-2010

APPIC Predoctoral Clinical Internship. Psychological Clinic & University Center for the Child and Family. University of Michigan. Ann Arbor, MI. 2007-2008

International Culture & Language Training Scholar, Madrid, Spain. 1987-1988

Office Location

Pauline Knapp Building, Room 238, 87 East Ferry Street, Detroit, MI 48202

Research Focus

  • Infant Mental Health
  • Fathering in Urban Environments
  • Parenting in Contexts of Risk
  • Emotion Regulation Processes in Parenting and Early Child Development
  • Biological and Psychosocial Processes in Early Parenting
  • Fathering Influences on Early Child Development


  • Licensed Clinical Psychologist (Michigan)
  • Licensed Clinical Social Worker (Michigan)
  • Infant Mental Health Mentor, Clinical & Research (Level IV; MI-AIMH)

Office Phone


Courses Taught

  • SW 6883 Social Work Practice with Young Children and Families
  • SW 7880 Infant and Family Mental Health Assessment
  • SW 8880 Infant Mental Health Practice


Recent Representative Publications:

Dayton, C. J., Malone, J. C., & Brown, S. (2020). Pathways to parenting: The emotional journeys of fathers as they prepare to parent a new infant. In H. E. Fitzgerald, K. von Klitzing, N. Cabrera, T. Skjothaug and J. S. de Medonca (Eds.), Handbook of Fathers: Prenatal to PreK. New York: Springer Press.

Dayton, C.J., Barron, C. C., Stacks, A. M., & Malone, J. (2020). Infant Mental Health: Clinical Practice with Very Young Children and their Families. In J. Brandell, Theory and Practice in Clinical Social Work (Ed.). San Diego, CA: Cognella.

Dayton, C. J., Johnson, A., Hicks, L., Goletz, J. Brown, S. Primuse, T. Green, K., Nordin, M., Welch, R., & Muzik, M. (2019). Sex differences in the social ecology of breastfeeding: A mixed methods analysis of breastfeeding views of expectant mothers and fathers. Journal of Biosocial Science.

Dayton, C. J., Brown, S., Goletz, J., Hicks, L., Barron, C., & Smith-Darden, J. (2019). Pathways to parenting: Predictors of prenatal bonding in a sample of expectant mothers and fathers exposed to environmental risk. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 28(4), 1134-1144.

Hicks, L. M., Dayton, C. J. (2018). Depressive and trauma symptoms in risk-exposed, expectant mothers and fathers: Is mindfulness a buffer? Journal of Affective Disorders, 238, 179-186. doi:

Dayton, C. J., Matthews, W. K., Hicks, L., & Malone, J. (2017). The expression of music throughout the lives of expectant parents. Psychology of Music, 45(6), 839-854. doi: 0305735617692165

Swain, J. E., Ho, S., Rosenblum, K. L., Morelen, D., Dayton, C. J. & Muzik, M. (2017). Parent-child intervention decreases stress and increases maternal brain responses and connectivity in response to own baby-cry: An exploratory study. Development and Psychopathology, 29, 535-553. doi:

Bocknek, E. L., Dayton, C. J., Brophy-Herb, H. Raveau, H., & Fitzgerald, H. (2017). Routine active playtime with fathers is associated with toddlers’ emotion regulation competencies. Merrill Palmer Quarterly, 63(1).

Dayton, C. J., & Malone, J. (2017). The development and socialization of physical aggression in very young boys. Infant Mental Health Journal, 38(1),150-165. doi: 10.1002/imhj.21622.

Dayton, C. J., Buczkowski, R. S., Muzik, M., Goletz, J., Hicks, L., Walsh, T., & Bocknek, E. L. (2016). Expectant fathers’ beliefs and expectations about fathering as they prepare to parent a new infant. Social Work Research: Special Issue on Social Work with Men and Fathers, 40(4), 225-236. doi: 10.1093/swr/svw017.

Dayton, C. J., Huth-Bocks, A., & Busuito, A. (2016). The influence of interpersonal aggression on maternal perceptions of infant emotions: Associations with early parenting quality. Emotion, 16(4), 436-448. doi: 10.1037/emo0000114.

← Return to listing