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Mother-Infant Sleep Location: It's Not as Simple as it Seems

by Kathleen Kendall-Tackett, PhD, IBCLC, FAPA
  • Duration: 60 Mins
  • Credits: 1 CERP, 1 R-CERP
  • Learning Format: Webinar
  • Handout: Yes
  • Origin: GOLD Lactation 2015

Policy makers often describe mother-infant sleep in fairly black-and-white terms, and try to condense their message into a single declarative statement: don’t sleep with your baby. Recent research, however, shows that mother-infant sleep is considerably more complex than it is usually portrayed. This presentation discusses new findings from the U.S. sample of the Survey of Mothers’ Sleep and Fatigue (n=4789). These findings describe the groups most likely to bedshare including differences by ethnic-group, income, employment status, partner status, maternal age, income, and education. There are substantial ethnic-group differences on the percentage of mothers who feed in chairs and recliners (e.g., African American mothers have very low rates of these dangerous behaviors). There are also large ethnic-group differences in where mothers and their partners think babies should sleep, and this will govern behavior. Using the full sample of the Survey (N=6410), this presentation also examines sleep location by feeding status. Breastfeeding/bedsharing mothers do the best of all groups on measures of sleep, depression, and anxiety. In contrast, formula-feeding/bedsharing mothers do worse on every measure, suggesting that bedsharing while breastfeeding is a very different physiological condition to bedsharing while formula-feeding. In summary, the findings of both analyses suggest that a single message for all groups will not be effective. It is important to take into account the many different ways that mothers and babies sleep in order to promote safe mother-infant sleep.

Learning Objectives:

Objective 1: Describe the ways that infant sleep location varies by ethnicity in the U.S.

Objective 2: Describe how income, partner status, employment, income, and education influence infant sleep location.

Objective 3: Understand the interaction of feeding method and sleep location on maternal sleep and mental health.

Categories: Infant Sleep,