The present study examined differences in social criticism and maternal distress and in household, maternal, and infant characteristics between families who co-slept with their infants beyond 6 months and those who moved their infants to a separate room by 6 months. Data for infant sleeping arrangements, preferences for their sleeping arrangement choices, criticism, depressive and anxiety symptoms, and worries about infant sleep were collected from 103 European American mothers during the infant's first year. Mothers who co-slept with their infants beyond 6 months (persistent co-sleepers) were more likely than mothers who moved their infants to solitary sleep by 6 months to receive criticism and report depression and worry about infants' sleep behaviour, even after controlling for preference for the sleep arrangement they used. Interestingly, criticism was associated with maternal depression and worries only for persistent co-sleeping mothers. Further, these mothers had lower income, reported greater space constraints; were younger, single, or unemployed; were less likely to have a Bachelor's degree; and were more likely to have infants with greater negative affectivity or problematic night waking, compared to mothers of solitary sleeping infants. Adherence to cultural norms regarding infant sleeping arrangements may be a strong predictor of social criticism and maternal well-being. Highlights: The present study examined differences in levels of criticism and maternal distress and in sample characteristics by infant sleep arrangements. The covariance pattern models revealed that persistent co-sleeping mothers reported greater social criticism, depressive symptoms, and worry about infants' sleep behaviour than mothers of solitary sleeping infants. Social criticism was associated with maternal depressive symptoms and worries only for mothers in the former group, consistent with the cultural model of sleep. Co-sleepers' household and maternal characteristics reported by past work may be most applicable to European American families. The European American families who persistently co-slept with their infants in our study may be reactive co-sleepers.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Developmental and Educational Psychology