INFANT SLEEP, MOTHER’S BEDTIME BEHAVIOR, AND 12-MONTH INFANT ATTACHMENT: THE MODERATING ROLE OF INFANT SLEEP DURATION

All Authors:
Douglas M. Teti, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA, United States (Primary Presenter); Brian Crosby, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, United States

Although sleep in childhood is regarded as promotive of children’s self-regulation (El-Sheikh, 2011), linkages between infant sleep and infant attachment security are poorly understood.  Attachment theory identifies parenting quality as the primary determinant of infant attachment security (Ainsworth et al., 1978) but says little about the role of child sleep in the development of attachment.  At the same time, infants with better regulated sleep may be more capable of organizing behavior and using the parent as a secure base than infants who sleep poorly.  The present study examined direct and interactive associations between first-year infant sleep, mothers’ emotional availability (EA) with infants during bedtimes, and 12-month infant attachment to mothers.

Data for this study drew from an NIH-funded study of infant sleep, parenting, and infant development.  Correlational and multi-level modeling analyses revealed that maternal emotional availability, averaged across the first year, and longer infant sleep durations (from actigraphy, averaged across the first year) each  predicted 12-month infant attachment security (from the Attachment Q-Set; Waters, 1995), ps < .05).  Importantly, infant sleep duration interacted with mothers’ EA, such that mothers EA across the first year predicted infant attachment only among infants with shorter sleep durations (Figure 1), but not among infants with longer sleep durations (Figure 2). These analyses suggest that maternal bedtime parenting quality mattered more among infants with poor self-regulated sleep than among infants with adequate self-regulated sleep.   These and additional results will be discussed in relation to diathesis-stress and differential susceptibility models linking infant sleep, parenting, and attachment.