A community-based study of sleep and behaviour problems in 12- to 36-month-old children

W. A. Hall, A. Scher, A. Zaidman-Zait, H. Espezel, F. Warnock

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background While evidence suggests sleep problems are common in young children and linked to behavioural problems, studies of toddlers are rare. This community-based cross-sectional study examined associations between sleep problems and daytime behaviour among 58 children aged 1 to 3 years who attended daycare centres. Methods Mothers and daycare providers completed four and three questionnaires, respectively, about children's sleep patterns and behaviour. Two hypotheses were tested: (1) children with higher sleep problem scores would have more behavioural problems by parental and daycare provider report; (2) problematic napping behaviours would be associated with night sleep problems. Results Mothers' reports of sleep problems were positively associated with children's behavioural problems at home and daycare providers' reports of nap problems were positively correlated with children's behavioural problems at daycare. Daycare providers' reports of children's behavioural problems at daycare were associated with maternal reports of behavioural problems. Older children in the sleep problem group had maternal reports of more behavioural problems. Daycare providers reported that children with sleep problems were less happy at daycare. Children who were happier following naps had less reported night settling difficulties. Children with difficulty settling for naps at daycare had maternal reports of more behavioural problems. Conclusions Napping in daycare settings is an important component of toddlers' sleep. Crossover effects between children's sleep and behaviour at daycare and home indicate similarities in mothers' and daycare providers' perceptions. Findings suggest parent and daycare provider interactions include discussions about sleep problems and settling at home and in daycares. Parents and daycare providers would benefit from education about relationships between sleep and behavioural problems.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)379-389
Number of pages11
JournalChild: Care, Health and Development
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2012


  • Behaviour
  • Child care
  • Child development
  • Sleep

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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