Maternal Depressive Symptoms, Dysfunctional Cognitions, and Infant Night Waking: The Role of Maternal Nighttime Behavior


  • This study was supported by a grant from the Children, Youth, and Family Consortium of the Pennsylvania State University. We thank Molly Countermine, Gail Mayer, Stacey Cohen, Daniel Coladonato, and Melanie Henderson for their invaluable assistance in data collection and thank the families who participated in this study.

concerning this article should be addressed to Douglas M. Teti, Human Development and Family Studies, The Pennsylvania State University, S-211 Henderson Bldg., University Park, PA 16802. Electronic mail may be sent to


Mechanisms were examined to clarify relations between maternal depressive symptoms, dysfunctional cognitions, and infant night waking among 45 infants (1–24 months) and their mothers. A mother-driven mediational model was tested in which maternal depressive symptoms and dysfunctional cognitions about infant sleep predicted infant night waking via their impact on mothers’ bedtime and nighttime behavior with infants (from video). Two infant-driven mediational models were also examined, in which infant night waking predicted maternal depressive symptoms, or dysfunctional cognitions, via their impact on nighttime maternal behavior. Stronger support for the mother-driven model was obtained, which was further supported by qualitative observations from video-recordings. This study provides important insights about maternal depression’s effects on nighttime parenting, and how such parenting affects infant sleep.