Cumulative risk, infant sleep, and infant social-emotional development

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Infant Behavior and Development


The effect of cumulative biological, psychosocial, and demographic risk and infant sleep on infant social-emotional functioning in 12-month-old infants (46% female) was examined in data from racially (30% Black, 60% White, 10% multiracial/other) and socioeconomically (41% below median income) diverse caregivers (N = 468, M = 30.42 years old, SD = 5.65) recruited from two midwestern states in 2019–2020. Due to the major changes in sleep patterns during infancy and the reported association between sleep and social-emotional functioning, this study also examined whether sleep moderates the association between risk and infant social-emotional functioning and potentially promotes healthy social-emotional functioning despite risk. Greater cumulative risk was associated with poorer sleep efficiency and more social-emotional problems, but was not associated with the general acquisition of social-emotional milestones. Results also suggested that poorer sleep efficiency was associated with more social-emotional problems and poorer social-emotional milestone acquisition. No significant interaction effects were found between cumulative risk and infant sleep. Risk and sleep appear to have unique associations with infant social-emotional problems and development; thus both could be targeted in early intervention to promote social-emotional functioning during infancy and early childhood.


A. D. Staples, C. Peterson,and R. Lajiness-O'Neill are faculty members in EMU's Department of Psychology.

J. Brooks is a faculty member in EMU's Department of Health Sciences.

A. Lukomski is a faculty member in EMU's Department of Nursing.

*M. Lobermeier is an EMU student.

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