The transition to parenthood can be stressful for new parents, as parents must learn to take on new roles and responsibilities. Sleep disruption which has been linked in prior research to parent distress and fatigue is common in the early months. The current study is the first to our knowledge to examine infant sleep and its potential indirect influence on parents' perceptions of coparenting quality at 1 and 3 months of infant age. Participants included 150 families. Mothers reported more night waking, poorer sleep quality, more depressive symptoms, and worse perceptions of coparenting quality as compared with fathers. We tested a structural model of infant and parent night waking and sleep quality as predictors of parent distress and coparenting using maximum likelihood estimation. The frequency of infant night waking predicted father and mother night waking, which in turn predicted parent sleep quality. Poor parent sleep quality predicted elevated depressive symptoms, and depressive symptoms were negatively related to perceptions of coparenting quality. Significant indirect effects between infant night waking and parent depression and coparenting quality were found. In summary, both mothers' and fathers' perceptions of coparenting were related to the unfolding of parental dynamics that take place surrounding infant sleep difficulties. This held true even after controlling for parent education, family income, and infant temperament. Therefore, coparenting may indirectly benefit from interventions targeting infant sleep difficulties.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- General Psychology