Maternal depressed mood moderates the impact of infant sleep on mother–infant bonding

Ilana S. Hairston, Tal Solnik-Menilo, Dana Deviri, Jonathan E. Handelzalts

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Parent–infant bonding has long-term consequences for the psychological wellbeing of the child. Considering the centrality of infant sleep patterns in infant–caregiver interactions in the first year of life, we propose that infant sleep patterns act as a catalyst or disruptor for mother–infant relationship, such that infant sleep patterns contribute to maternal mood, maternal sleep quality, perception of infant temperament, and her bonding experience. One hundred fifty-two Israeli mothers, of 5–8-month-old infants, responded to Internet-based questionnaires regarding their sleep, their mood, their infant’s sleep, the infant’s temperament, and their bonding experience. Eight percent of the mothers reported clinically significant depression, while 67 % reported significant sleep difficulties. Infant sleep difficulties correlated with maternal mood and sleep quality, infant fussiness, and bonding. Structural equation modeling demonstrated that maternal sleep partially mediated the relationship between infant sleep and maternal mood. Additionally, 22 % of the variance in bonding was explained by infant sleep problems and temperament. Notably, maternal depression moderated this effect such that infant sleep problems correlated with bonding only in those mothers who were depressed. The results suggest that infant sleep is a vector by which maternal cognitions and mood are transmitted to her child, with long-term implications for psychological development.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1029-1039
Number of pages11
JournalArchives of Women's Mental Health
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2016
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016, Springer-Verlag Wien.


  • Bonding
  • Infant temperament
  • Postpartum depression
  • Sleep

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Obstetrics and Gynecology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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