Infant and Child Development

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Volume 7 Issue 2 (June 1998), Pages 61-117

Maternal representation and care of infant sleep (pages 73-78)


Maternal reports about infant sleep care and ideas about the causes of awakening were obtained from telephone interviews with 104 middle class primiparae when their infants were 1 month and 1 year old. These reports were compared with their expectations about infant sleep before the birth of their child. It was found that most of the mothers were willing to ‘help’ their infants fall asleep, with 19 different kinds of techniques being spontaneously mentioned. Most of the techniques involved physical contact. The changes in technique from before birth to the end of the first year of life mainly concerned a decrease in the use of techniques involving holding the infant in the arms. From 1 month to 1 year, there was a decrease in rocking techniques, while at 1 year the use of a (bottle) feeding technique and taking the child into the parents' bed became apparent. The reasons mothers gave for infant awakenings varied from 1 month to 1 year. At 1 year, the most frequent reason was that the infant has ‘sufficient sleep’. Mothers' representations before the infant birth did not overlap with representations and reports of sleep handling after birth. Mothers were willing to apply and use a great variety of caring techniques that they perceived to be adjusted to the individual needs of their child. © 1998 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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