Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



Eberly College of Arts and Sciences


Philosophy and Humanities

Committee Chair

Katherine Karraker


Approximately 13% of infants born in the United States each year are delivered prematurely, defined as prior to 37 weeks gestation. Among these premature infants, 84% are born between 32 and 36 weeks gestation (Kelly, 2006). Past research has found that the sleep/wake patterns of late-preterm and full-term infants are different (Gossel-Symank, Grimmer, Korte, & Siegmund, 2004; Ingersoll & Thoman, 1999; Ju et al., 1991). However, little is known about psychosocial factors (i.e., maternal sleep-related cognitions and nocturnal behaviors) that may contribute to differences between late-preterm and full-term infant sleep. Few studies have investigated the relations among infant sleep behavior, mothers' cognitions about infant sleep, and mothers' sleep-related behaviors in mothers of full-term and late-preterm infants. Information about these relations might contribute to an understanding of why late-preterm infants might sleep less well than full-term infants.;Results of this study indicated that while not extensive, a few sleep differences do exist between late-preterm and full-term infants at 6 months of age, with late-preterm infants sleeping more during the day than full-term infants. However, relations between infant sleep and maternal cognitions and nocturnal behaviors are less clear. The current sample of late-preterm infant mothers did not endorse cognitions nor participate in nocturnal behaviors that had been previously associated with poorer infant sleep patterns. In some cases, full-term infant mothers were more likely to report certain cognitions (e.g., doubt) than late-preterm infant mothers. This could be related to the psychopathology that was reported in the current sample of full-term infant mothers, including depression. However, late-preterm infant mothers were more vigilant at night than full-term infant mothers, supporting the idea of a slight maternal expectation of infant vulnerability.;Maternal expectations of premature infants in general were also not different between groups with late-preterm infant mothers actually rating unfamiliar full-term infants less favorably than unfamiliar premature labeled infants. While contradictory to what was hypothesized, the findings are in line with research supporting the idea that positive experiences the mothers have had with their own infants would override any negative beliefs held about premature infants. Finally, maternal expectations of infant development also did not differ as was hypothesized. In fact, mothers in the entire sample tended to be accurate reporters of their infant's developmental abilities.;The development of sleep is one of the most important and dramatic processes of infancy and early childhood. The development of sleep/wake patterns in premature infants as an area of research is one that is sparse and the results incongruent. Research investigating sleep in late-premature infants is even less available. Thus, while the current study did not yield a wide range of significant results it is an important first step in continuing to understand the development of sleep patterns in late-premature infants.