Sarah Berger, M. Benish-Weisman, Natalie Barnett, Shambhavi Thakur, Maristella Lucchini
Presented at World Sleep, Rio de Janeiro, 2023
Values are abstract concepts that play a crucial role in shaping behavior and influencing how individuals assess themselves and others. Parents’ values shape opportunities for preschoolers’ play and shape how parents work together to manage parenting responsibilities. However, there is no work on how parents’ values impact parenting practices and decisions during infancy. To address this gap in the literature, we chose a meaningful context to parents of infants—sleep. Specifically, the relation between mothers’ values, their infants’ sleep, and their own cognitions about infant sleep.
Materials and Methods
1425 mothers from 32 countries with a child 3- to 18-months old (mean=8.85 mos) participated in an online survey. Criteria for participation was using Nanit, a home video baby monitoring system that uses computer vision technology to calculate nightly summary sleep characteristics (e.g., quality of night sleep, parent visits, night wakings).
Mothers completed the Maternal Cognitions on Infant Sleep Questionnaire (MCISQ), with 5 subscales on beliefs about setting limits around infants’ sleep, anger at infants’ demands related to sleep, doubts about parenting competence, beliefs in the importance of feeding to soothe the infant during the night, and concerns about the infant’s safety in the crib at night; and the Portrait Values Questionnaire (PVQ), with 10 subscales related to personal vs. social foci and openness to change vs. tradition.
Latent profile analysis identified a three-profile (growth self-focused, other-focused infant-led, other-focused structured) model of mothers’ value endorsements as the best fit. Value profiles did not predict infant sleep characteristics (efficiency or wakings) or parental visits. However, value profile did predict maternal cognitions around infants’ sleep. A series of one-way analyses of variance (ANOVA) with profile as a between-subjects factor revealed main effects of profile on anger at infants’ demands related to sleep and concerns about infants’ safety in the crib. Post-hoc Bonferroni tests demonstrated that the other-focused infant-led profile scored higher on the anger and safety subscales than the other-focused structured profile. Moreover, maternal cognitions about sleep were correlated with sleep metrics. The greater the maternal concern about infants’ sleep, the more disrupted infants’ sleep with more night wakings, more maternal visits, and worse overall quality of sleep.
This study may be the first to link mothers’ value systems to the context of infant sleep. The three profiles comprising this random sample reflect typical western value systems and infants had typical sleep patterns, regardless of mother profile. However, how mothers felt about providing that care and the impact of infant sleep on their lives did vary across value profiles. Mothers valuing infant-led interactions may experience more anger and safety concerns because they relinquish more control than other profiles. These findings have implications for predicting how new mothers may cope during the early months of parenthood as they adjust to their new role and sleep deprivation. Future research should examine whether different profiles may be more directly related to infant sleep by explicitly including mothers diagnosed with or at risk for mental health problems.
About the researchers
The authors include Sarah Berger, M. Benish-Weisman, Natalie Barnett, Shambhavi Thakur, and Maristella Lucchini
Dr. Sarah Berger is a Professor of Psychology at the College of Staten Island and the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. She received her PhD from New York University. Dr. Berger was an American Association of University Women Postdoctoral Research Fellow and a Fulbright Research Scholar. Dr. Berger studies the interaction between cognitive and motor development in infancy, particularly response inhibition and its implications for the allocation of attention in very young children. A line of National Science Foundation (NSF)-funded work, in collaboration with Dr. Anat Scher, has been the first to study the impact of sleep on motor problem solving in infancy.
Dr. Natalie Barnett serves as VP of Clinical Research at Nanit. Natalie initiated sleep research collaborations at Nanit and in her current role, Natalie oversees collaborations with researchers at hospitals and universities around the world who use the Nanit camera to better understand pediatric sleep and leads the internal sleep and development research programs at Nanit. Natalie holds a Ph.D. in Genetics from the University of New England in Australia and a Postgraduate Certificate in Pediatric Sleep Science from the University of Western Australia. Natalie was an Assistant Professor in the Neurogenetics Unit at NYU School of Medicine prior to joining Nanit. Natalie is also the voice of Nanit's science-backed, personalized sleep tips delivered to users throughout their baby's first few years.
Shambhavi Thakur serves as Clinical Research Data Analyst at Nanit. She holds a Masters degree in Health Informatics and Life Sciences. She oversees the research collaborations with various universities and analyzes sleep data for internal as well as external studies.
Dr. Maristella Lucchini serves as Senior Clinical Researcher at Nanit. In her role, Maristella works to secure grant funding in collaboration with Nanit’s university research partners and supports the development of the company’s research collaborations around the world. Previously, Maristella served as an Assistant Research Scientist in the Division of Developmental Neuroscience, Department of Psychiatry at Columbia University Irving Medical Center where she led projects across several cohorts focusing on sleep health for pregnant and postpartum women and their children. Maristella’s research focused on underserved communities and sleep health disparities in the perinatal period. During her years as a postdoctoral researcher at Columbia University Irving Medical Center in the Department of Psychiatry, Maristella was selected to participate in the American Academy of Sleep Medicine Young Investigator Research Forum. She holds a Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering from Politecnico di Milano.