Toddler Bedtime Routines and Behavioral, Cognitive, and Health Outcomes

Lauren Hale, Stony Brook University, State University of New York (SUNY)
Lawrence M. Berger, University of Wisconsin at Madison

Despite interest in promoting sound sleep for toddlers, little is understood about whether advised techniques (e.g., regular bedtimes, routine sleeping arrangements) promote sleep and thereby child wellbeing. Moreover, little is known about the sleep patterns of children who may be at risk for adverse developmental outcomes. We use data from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study, a sample of children born primarily to low-income, single mothers, to first identify child and family characteristics associated with consistent child bedtimes and sleeping arrangements. We then estimate associations of children’s sleep routines with cognitive, behavioral, and health outcomes. We find that children from disadvantaged families have less consistent sleep routines and engage in more co-sleeping with parents than their more advantaged counterparts. These factors are associated with increased behavior problems, but less so with cognitive or health outcomes. This research has implications for interventions intended to reduce behavior problems among disadvantaged children.

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Presented in Session 8: Child Health and Wellbeing in Developed Countries