Parental behaviors and sleep outcomes in infants and toddlers: A cross-cultural comparison

Jodi A. Mindell*, Avi Sadeh, Jun Kohyama, Ti Hwei How

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: To assess the prevalence of parental behaviors and other factors of sleep ecology and to analyze their relationships with sleep outcomes in a large sample of children ages birth to 36. months in multiple countries/regions. Methods: Parents of 29,287 infants and toddlers (48% boys; Australia, Canada, China, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Korea, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, United Kingdom, United States, and Vietnam) completed an internet-based expanded version of the Brief Infant Sleep Questionnaire. Results: Overall, there is a high level of parental involvement in sleep onset and sleep maintenance for young children, with significant differences in parenting behaviors across cultural groups. For predominantly-Caucasian, the most common behavior occurring at bedtime is falling asleep independently in own crib/bed (57%), compared to just 4% of those children living in predominantly-Asian regions. Parental behaviors and sleep ecology, including parental presence at sleep onset, bedtime, and bedtime routine, significantly explain a portion of the variance in sleep patterns. Overall, parental behaviors are more highly predictive of nighttime sleep outcomes in predominantly-Caucasian regions. Finally, parental involvement in sleep onset mediates the relationship between cosleeping and sleep outcomes. Conclusions: Overall, the best predictors of nighttime sleep are related to parental behaviors at bedtime and during the night. Furthermore, sleep disruption and decreased total sleep associated with bed sharing and room sharing are mediated by parental presence at bedtime. These findings provide additional support for addressing parental behaviors in behavioral interventions for infant and toddler sleep problems.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)393-399
Number of pages7
JournalSleep Medicine
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2010


FundersFunder number
Johnson and Johnson


    • Cross-cultural
    • Infant
    • Parents
    • Sleep
    • Sleep patterns
    • Sleep problems
    • Toddler


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