Mother-Infant Sleep and Maternal Emotional Distress in Solo-Mother and Two-Parent Families

Hamutal Ben-Zion, Ella Volkovich, Gal Meiri, Liat Tikotzky

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: This study examined for the first time mother-infant sleep and emotional distress in solo mother families compared with two-parent families and explored whether the links between mother-infant sleep and maternal emotional distress differ as a function of family structure. Methods: Thirty-nine solo-mother families and 39 two-parent families, with an infant within the age range of 6-18 months participated in the study. Actigraphy and sleep diaries were used to assess maternal and infant sleep at home. Mothers completed questionnaires to assess maternal depressive and anxiety symptoms, social support, sleeping arrangements, breastfeeding, and demographics. Results: Solo mothers were older and more likely to breastfeed and share a bed with their infants than married mothers. There were no significant differences between the groups in mother-infant sleep and maternal emotional distress, while controlling for maternal age, breastfeeding, and sleeping arrangements. Family structure had a moderating effect on the associations between maternal emotional distress and mother-infant sleep. Only in solo-mother families, higher maternal emotional distress was associated with lower maternal and infant sleep quality. Conclusions: Our findings suggest that, although there are no significant differences in maternal and infant sleep between solo-mother families and two-parent families, the strength of the associations between maternal emotional distress and both infant and maternal sleep quality are stronger in solo-mother families, compared with two-parent families. Hopefully, understanding which aspects of parenting may contribute to the development of sleep problems in solo-mother families could be helpful in tailoring interventions to this growing population.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)181-193
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Pediatric Psychology
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 Mar 2020


  • emotional distress
  • family structure
  • infant
  • mother
  • sleep
  • solo mother

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


Dive into the research topics of 'Mother-Infant Sleep and Maternal Emotional Distress in Solo-Mother and Two-Parent Families'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this