Date Approved


Degree Type

Open Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department or School


Committee Member

Renee Lajiness-O’Neill, PhD

Committee Member

Angela Staples, PhD

Committee Member

Catherine Peterson, PhD


The current study aimed to understand the effect of cumulative risk on the social-emotional functioning of infants. Additionally, this study examined sleep as a potential protective factor, which may promote healthier social-emotional outcomes despite risk. A sample of 325 caregiver-infant dyads completed established developmental, behavioral, and caregiver questionnaires as well as PediaTracTM, an experimental tool to track infant and toddler development. More cumulative risk exposure was not associated with typical social-emotional development but was associated with more problem behaviors at 12 months and lower sleep efficiency at 9 and 12 months. Higher sleep efficiency was also associated with positive social-emotional outcomes. When predicting problematic and typical social-emotional development, no significant interaction effects were found, suggesting that sleep may not act as a protective factor in high-risk infants. These findings indicate that an intervention targeting sleep efficiency may promote healthy social-emotional functioning in all children, regardless of risk exposure.