The present longitudinal study addressed the ongoing debate regarding the benefits and risks of infant-parent cosleeping by examining associations between sleep arrangement patterns across the first year of life and infant and parent sleep, marital and family functioning, and quality of mothers' behavior with infants at bedtime. Patterns of infant sleep arrangements across the infants' first year were derived from information obtained from 139 families at 1, 3, 6, 9, and 12 months of infant age in a central Pennsylvania sample. Linkages between these patterns and parent-infant sleep, marital and coparenting stress, and maternal behavior at bedtime (from video-recordings) were assessed. Compared with families whose infants were solitary sleepers by 6 months, persistent cosleeping was associated with sleep disruption in mothers but not in infants, although mothers in persistent cosleeping arrangements reported that their infants had more frequent night awakenings. Persistent cosleeping was also associated with mother reports of marital and coparenting distress, and lower maternal emotional availability with infants at bedtime (from home observations). Persistent cosleeping appeared to be a marker of, though not necessarily a cause of, heightened family stress, although the present design did not enable strong tests of causal processes, and results may be particular to cultures that are not supportive of cosleeping. Findings are discussed in terms of cultural contexts of infant sleep and the need for further investigations into the role of the health of the family system in influencing how parents structure infant sleep.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Developmental and Educational Psychology
- Life-span and Life-course Studies