Assisted conception, maternal personality and parenting

Associations with toddler sleep behaviour

Nikki Johnson, Catherine McMahon*, Frances Gibson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

6 Citations (Scopus)


AIM: To explore the role of maternal personality (hardiness), sleep-related cognitions and bedtime involvement in child sleep behaviour during the second post-natal year in a sample of spontaneous and assisted conception first-time mothers.

METHOD: Mothers (n = 134 (spontaneous (n = 81); assisted (n = 53) conception)) reported on a resilience measure (hardiness) during pregnancy and child sleep at 7 and 19 months post-partum. At 19 months post-partum, mothers also reported on their cognitions and involvement around their child's bedtime, and half the sample used Actigraph monitors (Acitiwatch-16, Mini Mitter Co. Inc, Bend, OR, USA) to validate maternal report of child sleep.

RESULTS: No significant differences were found between spontaneous and assisted conception mothers on any of the study variables; therefore, assisted and spontaneous samples were combined. Structural equation modelling confirmed that lower pre-birth maternal hardiness was associated with more problematic sleep-related cognitions (β = 0.23, P < 0.01) and involvement at bedtime (β = 0.29, P < 0.01) and poorer child sleep outcomes (β = -0.33, P < 0.001) during toddlerhood, even after considering concurrent maternal mood and child temperament.

CONCLUSIONS: Pre-birth maternal hardiness rather than mode of conception contributes to parenting cognitions and behaviour around child sleep and, ultimately, toddlers' sleep outcomes. Findings suggest that targeting negative maternal perceptions of control and efficacy through clinical interventions could benefit toddlers' sleep.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)732-738
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Paediatrics and Child Health
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2014


  • assisted reproductive technology
  • cognitions
  • early childhood
  • hardiness
  • parenting
  • sleep

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