Maternal separation anxiety as a regulator of infants' sleep

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Abstract

Background

The regulation of infants' sleep is determined not only by biological factors but by relational aspects too. This study focused on maternal separation anxiety and examined its association with sleep–wake regulation at 10 months of age.

Method

In a community sample comprising 52 infants and their mothers, sleep was measured objectively with an activity monitor, as well as through questionnaires. The mothers reported on their own separation anxiety and on the child's perceived distress.

Results

The main finding was that maternal seperation anxiety was linked to settling to sleep routines and to night-waking. The contribution of the mothers' own sepration anxiety to their infants' night-waking remained significant after controlling for the child's fussiness.

Conclusions

Consistent with the transactional perspective, the current research documented an interplay between maternal separation anxiety and aspects of the child's sleep–wake transitions.

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