The Society for Social Work and Research

2013 Annual Conference

January 16-20, 2013 I Sheraton San Diego Hotel and Marina I San Diego, CA

Examination of Child and Family Characteristics and Bedtime Routines of Young Children At 14, 24, and 36 Months In Low-Income Ethnically-Diverse Families

Saturday, January 19, 2013: 8:00 AM
Executive Center 1 (Sheraton San Diego Hotel & Marina)
* noted as presenting author
Michaela Zajicek-Farber, MSW PhD, Associate Professor, The Catholic University of America, Washington, D.C, DC
Purpose: Parents’ engagement in child-routines influences children’s development (Fiese et al., 2002). Attachment theory (Bowlby, 1988) theoretically supports that parents’ intentional engagement in routines creates predictability in the environment, reinforces socially and culturally sanctioned parenting, and thus provides sensitive caregiving (George & Soloman, 2008). Research shows that child-routines positively influence early development (Mindell, Telofski,  Wiegand, & Kurtz, 2009), their lack can compromise early wellbeing (Meltzer & Moore, 2008). Recently, research has uncovered that having bedtime-routines reduces sleep problems in children and thus promotes health (Sadeh, Tikotzky, & Scher, 2010). Hale et al. (2009) found that low maternal education, increased household size, and poverty were associated with decreased use of bedtime-routines. Kelly et al. (2011) found that families’ incomes were positively related to having family-routines. Although research suggests that regular bedtimes and bedtime-routines are commonly used with young advantaged (White) children (Crowell, Keener, Ginsburg, & Anders, 1987), less is known about racially-diverse and low-income children (Mindell et al., 2005).  This study strives to add to the existing knowledge by examining the associations of child and family characteristics with the likelihood of having bedtime-routines in an ethnically diverse large sample of young children in low-income families.

Method: Secondary data analysis used 2977 children (White-37%, Black-35%, Hispanic-24%) enrolled during birth-3 phase into longitudinal Early Head Start Research and Evaluation (EHSRE). Bilingual EHSRE-trained interviewers accomplished data collection during structured interviews timed around children’s birthdays. Mothers reported on demographic, parenting, and mental-health variables; EHSRE-trained examiners assessed children’s variables on development. Using longitudinal approach with adjusted odds for selected control variables, logistic regression with block-entry with Forward-Conditional entry-method tested the association between parent-family and child characteristics in relation to binary outcome of children having bedtime routines at 14-24-36-months.

Results: At 14 months, 1587 (68%) children had bedtime routines. Compared to White children (76%), Black (63%) and Hispanic (64%) were less likely to have bed-routines (Chi-Square (df=3)=37.78, p < .001). Controlling for demographics, adjusted bed-routines odds were significantly decreased by race (Black OR=.69) compared to White, but not Hispanic, and increased by having regular bedtime (OR=2.21) and by a more responsive home-environment (OR=1.07). Overall 14mos Model: p < .001; Hosmer-Lemeshow: p=.719; Classification: Having Bedtime-Routine=99.1%; Goodness-of-fit: Nagelkerke R-Square=.26. At 24 months, controlling for demographics and 14mos, adjusted bed-routines odds were significantly decreased by birth-related health-risks (OR=.44) and 24mo-parent-child-stress (OR=.94), and increased by 14mo-parent-child bed-routines (OR=1.62) and 24mo-regular bedtime (OR=2.32). Overall 24mos Model: p < .001; Hosmer-Lemeshow: p=.919; Classification: Having Regular Bedtime-Routine=86.7%; Goodness-of-fit: Nagelkerke R-Square=.43. At 36 months, controlling for previous variables, adjusted bed-routines odds were decreased by 14mo-parent-child-stress (OR=.95) and increased by 14mo-bed-routines (OR=2.02), 24mo-bed-routines (OR=2.13), 24mo-well-child-visits (OR=1.8), and 36mo-regular bedtime (OR=3.14). Overall 36mos Model: p < .001; Hosmer-Lemeshow: p=.960; Classification: Having Regular Bedtime-Routine=88.6%, and Goodness-of-fit: Nagelkerke R-Square=.46.

Implications: Results support culturally-sensitive parenting guidance that decreases parent-child stress and reinforces well-child visits and bed-routines for young children in low-income families. Having predictable bedtime-routines creates opportunities for conversational and literacy-oriented parent-child interactions that may not be possible at other times. Future research-directions and limitations are considered.