Social network influences on new mothers' infant sleep adjustments

Citation metadata

From: Social Science & Medicine(Vol. 269)
Publisher: Elsevier Science Publishers
Document Type: Report
Length: 439 words

Document controls

Main content

Abstract :

Keywords Social networks; Network influence; Parenthood; Infant sleep practices; Sudden infant death syndrome; Behavioral change Highlights * Social networks affect mothers' propensity to adjust infant sleep practices. * Mothers tend to adjust their practices when health providers advise them to do so. * Mothers also tend to adjust their practices in response to family members' advice. * The influence of personal network members may be negative for infants' sleep safety. Abstract Despite public awareness campaigns, some parents continue to engage in infant sleep practices that are considered risky by health experts, such as bedsharing or placing their infants on their stomachs. This study examines the role their social networks play in shaping parents' responsiveness to new information and/or suggestions about how they should place their infants for sleep, paying attention to the respective effects of health professionals and their close interpersonal ties. We collected data from a sample of 323 new mothers in Washington, D.C., who described their infant sleep practices and perceived personal social networks. We find evidence that mothers' social networks play a significant role in the likelihood that they adjust their infant sleep practices within the first few months of their infants' lives. Mothers are more likely to change sleep practices when health professionals and/or (lay) family members advise them to do so. The influence of network members is not always positive. For mothers who initially follow safe practices, their probability of change increases if their network members substantially espouse unsafe practices. Among mothers with initially unsafe practices, network members' level of support for safe sleep practices is not predictive of the likelihood of sleep practice change. Implications for potential interventions are discussed. Author Affiliation: (a) Department of Sociology, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, USA (b) Goldberg Center for Community Pediatric Health, Children's National Health System, Washington, D.C., USA (c) Department of Pediatrics, George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences, Washington, D.C., USA (d) Center for Translational Science Children's National Health System, Washington, D.C., USA (e) Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics George Washington University, Washington, D.C., USA (f) Department of Pediatrics University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA, USA * Corresponding author. Department of Sociology, Cornell University, 342 Uris Hall, Ithaca, NY, 14853, USA. Article History: Revised 24 November 2020; Accepted 3 December 2020 (footnote)[white star] We thank Erin York Cornwell and Alec McGail for reading early drafts of this paper and providing valuable feedback. We are also indebted to Yao Iris Cheng, Anita Mathews, and Rosalind P. Oden for their work on the survey. Byline: Benjamin Cornwell [] (a,*), Xuewen Yan (a), Rebecca F. Carlin (b,c), Linda Fu (b,c), Jichuan Wang (d,e), Rachel Y. Moon (f)

Source Citation

Source Citation   

Gale Document Number: GALE|A648973685