Children's night waking among toddlers: relationships with mothers' and fathers' parenting approaches and children's behavioural difficulties

J Adv Nurs. 2015 Jul;71(7):1639-49. doi: 10.1111/jan.12636. Epub 2015 Feb 18.


Aims: To explore associations between children's sleep problems, and behavioural difficulties and parenting approaches.

Background: Children commonly have problematic night waking; however, relationships between parenting cognitions and behaviours and children's sleep problems are rarely examined.

Design: Longitudinal children's cohort study from 5-29 months post birth.

Methods: Data were taken from the Quebec Longitudinal Study of Child Development (1998-2007) at three phases: 5, 17 and 29 months of age. Thousand four hundred and eighty-seven families were included in our study based on: participation from phase 1 (5-months old), both parents' reports on parenting cognitions/behaviours and child behavioural difficulties at 29 months, and mothers' reports of children's sleep at 29 months. In 2013, we conducted repeated measures anovas and manovas including children's gender.

Results: Extended night-time waking patterns (wakes of ≥20 minutes) were associated with mothers' and fathers' lower sense of parenting impact and higher overprotectiveness and mothers' lower self-efficacy and higher coerciveness for 29-month-old children. In the extended waking group, mothers consistently reported lower self-efficacy, higher overprotectiveness and lower parenting impact at 5, 17 and 29 months. For those children, fathers were only more overprotective at 5 and 29 months. Regarding 29-month-old children's behaviour, children in the extended night waking group had highest scores on externalizing and internalizing behaviours. Girls had higher scores on shyness/inhibition and boys had higher scores on aggression/hyperactivity.

Conclusion: Mothers' and fathers' parenting cognitions and behaviours are affected by 29-month-old children's night waking patterns and night waking patterns are associated with children's behavioural problems.

Keywords: child behaviour; children; nursing; parenting cognitions; sleep problems.

MeSH terms

  • Child Behavior*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Parenting*
  • Quebec
  • Sleep Wake Disorders*