Relations Between First-Time Mothers' Perceived Parenting Self-Efficacy, Infant Fussing, and Nighttime Sleep

Open Access
Fagan, Breanne Keely
Area of Honors:
Human Development and Family Studies
Bachelor of Science
Document Type:
Thesis Supervisors:
  • Leann L Birch, Thesis Supervisor
  • Cynthia Stifter, Faculty Reader
  • Kathryn Bancroft Hynes, Honors Advisor
  • first-time mothers
  • perceived self-efficacy
  • infant fussing
  • infant nighttime sleep
This research investigated relations of sleeping and fussing in early infancy and maternal self-efficacy during the infants’ first year of life by examining how early infant fussiness may relate to changing perceptions of efficacy in the parenting role. Participants were 75 primiparous mother-infant dyads. Most mothers were in their late 20’s (27.5 ± 4.74 years), married and had high educational attainment. Infant behavior was measured using Infant/Caregiver diary cards. Maternal perceptions of self-efficacy were measured using the Parental Sense of Competence scale and the Parental Self-Efficacy Questionnaire. Data analyses were performed using t-tests, correlations and ordinary least squares regressions. The findings indicated that early infant behavior is extremely variable but despite the variability, a positive relationship emerged between early nighttime sleeping and maternal self-efficacy, while early fussing did not prove to be significant. Maternal self-efficacy increases over time, but early infant behaviors did not predict later maternal self-efficacy when controlling for early self-efficacy. Behaviors perceived as more difficult, more fussing and less nighttime sleep, were negatively related to efficacy in mothers. One implication is that difficult behavior in early infancy may relate to negative perceptions of parenting, eliciting cycles of negative mother/infant interactions. Further investigations will be needed to confirm these findings and determine the specific mechanisms involved in the interplay between child behavior and maternal self-efficacy.