Open Access
Mayer, Gail E
Graduate Program:
Human Development and Family Studies
Master of Science
Document Type:
Master Thesis
Date of Defense:
April 26, 2010
Committee Members:
  • Douglas Michael Teti, Thesis Advisor/Co-Advisor
  • Cynthia Stifter, Thesis Advisor/Co-Advisor
  • infant
  • temperament
  • parenting
  • sleep
Sleep difficulties are a common concern for parents of infants of all ages. Research identifying the intrinsic (temperament) and extrinsic (parenting) factors that influence infant sleep quality has produced mixed findings. The present study examined how temperament and parenting individually influence infant sleep quality as well as how these factors interact in predicting sleep quality. Participants included 36 families of infants between the ages of 3 and 24 months. Temperament was assessed using the Revised Infant Behavior Questionnaire (IBQ-R). Parent behaviors were assessed through maternal report from the Sleep Practices Questionnaire (SPQ) and through observations from overnight video recordings. Sleep quality was assessed from Sleep Diaries completed by the parents over the course of a full week. Results indicated that the temperament characteristic of soothability was significantly associated with fewer night wakings whereas perceptual sensitivity was associated with more frequent night wakings. Mothers’ self-reported use of consistent bedtimes and bedtime routines was significantly associated with fewer infant night wakings. Self-reported rates of roomsharing and instability of the infant’s sleep location were associated with more frequent night wakings. Observational measures of parenting behaviors were not directly related to infant sleep quality. Several significant interactions emerged between temperament and parenting in predicting infant sleep quality. These interactions suggested that infant temperament moderates the relationship between parenting and infant sleep quality. The results reflected a common pattern indicating that parenting behaviors were significantly associated with sleep quality for infants with less reactive temperaments, but parenting was not significantly associated with sleep quality for infants with more reactive temperaments. The results provided support for the organismic specificity hypothesis in the context of infant sleep. These findings suggest that a complex relationship exists between temperament, parenting and sleep, such that parenting behaviors impact infants differently depending on their temperament. A complete understanding of infant sleep development cannot be achieved without considering the interactive relationship between these factors.