“Mommy, Where are You?â€‌: Sleep Interventions and Security of...

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“Mommy, Where are You?”: Sleep Interventions and Security of Infant-Mother Attachment. presented by Megan Blair Department of Psychology and Social Behavior, The University of California, Irvine. May 13, 2006. Bedtime for Baby. Advice from professionals. Sleep Intervention Methods - PowerPoint PPT Presentation

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  • Mommy, Where are You?:Sleep Interventions and Security of Infant-Mother Attachmentpresented byMegan BlairDepartment of Psychology and Social Behavior,The University of California, IrvineMay 13, 2006

  • Bedtime for Baby . . .

  • Advice from professionals . . .Sleep Intervention MethodsHelp a young child learn to sleep through the night on his or her ownRange from responsive to very non-responsiveCan be as extreme as leaving child to cry for long periods of time(Owens, France & Wiggs, 1999)

  • More advice from professionals . . .How to promote a secure attachmentprovide sensitive, consistent, appropriate responses to your childs needs(Bowlby, 1982; Ainsworth, 1982)

  • One might wonder . . .Daytime: consistent, responsive careSecure Attachment

  • Secure Infant Attachment . . .Benefits of a Secure Attachment Infant will explore a new environment, confident that the parent will protect him/her if needed.Securely attached children grow up to be more enthusiastic, goal-oriented, and better able to solve problems, compared to children who were insecurely attached (Carlson et al., 2003).

  • Insecure Infant Attachment . . .Insecure-AvoidantWhen distressed, child does not expect comfort from mother because she typically does not provide itChild learns to inhibit feelings - especially angerChild expects mother to be emotionally unavailable when he/she needs care or protection (based on history of maternal caregiving)

    (Ainsworth et al., 1978; Main, 2000)

  • Insecure Infant Attachment . . . Insecure-ResistantChild cries a lot if separated from mother and cannot be soothed easily by mother when she returnsWhen distressed, child both seeks and resists contact with mother because he/she does not believe in mothers ability to soothe him/herChild expects inconsistent, unpredictable care (based on the history of caregiving provided by the mother)(Ainsworth et al., 1978; Main, 2000)

  • The Missing Link!Is security of infant attachment to the mother associated with the use of sleep intervention methods??Security of Infant- MotherAttachmentSleepInterventionMethods

  • The Hypothesis . . . Infants who were subjected to sleep interventions that involve non-response or insensitive responses to their signals (e.g., crying) will be less likely to have secure attachments than infants who did not experience these methods.

  • The Setting and Sample . . . Setting: UCI Medical Center; lab playroom and offices in Dr. Curt Sandmans suiteParticipants:Recruited from larger study of child sleep location, family well-being, and attachment (Keller, Study of Child Sleep and Maternal and Child Well-Being)Families were also participants in a large longitudinal study of prenatal stress and development (Sandman & Davis, UCI Women and Childrens Health and Well-Being Project)

  • The Toddlers . . . 31 toddlers (17-19 months of age) and their mothers17 boys (52%) and 14 girls (48%)

  • The Mothers . . .22 - 40 years of age (M = 31.6)94% married; 100% living with childs fatherEmployment Status38% employed full-time27% part-time work/school35% not employedPrimarily middle-class families (income ranged from less than $40,000 to more than $180,000; median range = $60,000 - $80,000)

  • Mothers Educational Attainment . . . 4-Year college degree or higher (61%)Some college education (26%)High school diploma (10%)No high school diploma (3%)

  • Mothers Ethnic Background . . .Caucasian (48%)Other (13%)Hispanic (39%)

  • Methods . . .Attachment MeasureThe Strange Situation Procedure (Ainsworth et al., 1978)24 minute lab procedureConsists of time with mother and stranger, and time alone, in playroomChilds actions during separations and reunions videotaped and later coded to determine if infant is securely or insecurely attached to mother

  • Methods . . .Sleep Intervention MeasuresMaternal surveyDid you ever use a formal sleep training method to help your child learn to sleep through the night? (yes/no)How often did you respond to your childs signals by picking him/her up? (coded 1-5 where 1=never and 5=always)How often did you remain outside of your childs room when he/she was crying? (coded 1-5 where 1=never and 5=always)

  • Results . . .Attachment status71% Secure29% Insecure(44% Avoidant)(56% Resistant)

    Frequency of Attachment Types

  • Descriptive Results . . .55% of children had learned to sleep through the night by 6 months; 100% by 16 months90% currently sleeping through the nightSome children began reawakening after previously learning to sleep through the night63% of mothers believe that parents have an important role in teaching their children to learn to sleep through the night; however, only 26% of mothers reported using a formal sleep intervention method

  • Results . . . 90% of mothers reported some crying when their young child learned to sleep through the night.To get child to sleep, mothers tried . . .Nursing childGiving child a bottle/pacifier/toyBringing child into parents bedPicking child up to comfort him/herLetting child cry

  • Test of main hypothesis . . . Reported use of formal sleep intervention methods not significantly associated with security of infant attachment to mother(2 (1) = .38, ns.)

  • Follow-Up Research Question . . .Although they may not have reported using a formal sleep intervention method, some mothers have tried letting their child cry it out during the night.I examined whether reported non-responsive behaviors at night (not picking up distressed child; remaining outside childs room) are associated with infant attachment:Hypothesis: Mothers of insecurely attached infants will provide less responsive care at night than mothers of securely attached infants

  • Results . . . Mothers of securely attached infants were significantly more likely to provide responsive care when their children woke at nightFrequency of Picking Child Up During the Night(t (28) = 2.386, p < .05)

  • Results . . .Mothers of Insecure-Avoidant babies were significantly more likely to be non-responsive when their children cried at bedtimeFrequency of Remaining Outside of Crying Childs Room at Bedtime(t (24) = 2.217, p < .05)

  • Conclusions and Implications . . .Use of a formal sleep intervention method was not significantly associated with security of attachmentNon-responsiveness to childs signals at bedtime was related to greater likelihood of insecure attachments (especially insecure-avoidant) to motherResponsive care at night may be an important factor in promoting a secure infant attachment to mother

  • Future Research . . . Larger sampleAdd nighttime component to studies of associations between parental behavior and security of attachmentLongitudinal DesignStudy infants over a long period of time as they go through sleep intervention methods to see what effect these have on security of attachment

  • A big thank you! to . . .Professor Wendy GoldbergProfessor Valerie JennessPh.D. Candidate Meret KellerUROP and SURPResearch AssistantsJenna KieckhaeferRebecca GroverStephanie SullivanParticipating families


  • For more information contact me at:Megan Blairmblair@uci.edu(949) 823 - 9564