Parental Expectations May Play Role in Infants' Sleep

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September 4, 2009

A study conducted by researchers at Tel Aviv University suggests that infant sleep patterns might be a response to parental expectations, according to the New York Times' Motherlode blog. By gathering information through a combination of questionnaires, sleep diaries and monitoring through infant ankle monitors, researchers studied 85 families to determine the role parents may have in the development of infant sleep patterns. According to the New York Times , still-pregnant mothers who believed that an infant crying at night is a sign the baby is in distress and should be comforted were more likely to have babies who wake up and cry in the middle of the night. The study noted that mothers who believed crying babies should learn to comfort themselves were more likely to have infants with consistent sleep patterns. According to the National Sleep Foundation's information on Children and Sleep, when infants are put to bed drowsy but not asleep, they are more likely to become "self- soothers," which enables them to fall asleep independently at bedtime and put themselves back to sleep during the night. Those who have become accustomed to parental assistance at bedtime often become "signalers" and cry for their parents to help them return to sleep during the night.