Date of Completion


Embargo Period



Mother Infant Dyad, Sleep, Maternal Health, Physical Activity

Major Advisor

Amy Gorin, Ph.D.

Associate Advisor

Dean Cruess, Ph.D.

Associate Advisor

Jaci VanHeest, Ph.D.

Field of Study



Doctor of Philosophy

Open Access

Open Access


Obesity continues to impact the majority of American adults. Women are especially vulnerable during their childbearing years; while weight gain is appropriate during pregnancy, the postpartum period is a potential teachable moment to prevent excess weight retention long term. This study sought to explore the relationships between infant sleep training, maternal physical activity levels, and weight loss during the first postpartum year by comparing mothers who successfully sleep trained their infants with those who did not. Researchers sought to evaluate the presence of between group differences in 1) quality and quantity of maternal sleep, 2) quality and quantity of infant sleep, 3) maternal physical activity and weight loss, 4) psychosocial variables including postpartum depression and perceived social support and 5) mothers’ preference for potential weight loss and infant sleep training interventions. To address these aims, mothers were recruited with study flyers both online and in the community. 150 mothers of 6-12 month old infants completed study questionnaires online. Data was analyzed using chi-square and independent t-tests. Results indicate that mothers who successfully sleep trained their infants reported higher quality and quantity of maternal sleep and infant sleep, as well as higher levels of perceived social support. While there were no other significant group differences on psychosocial variables, mothers in both groups reported a notably high prevalence of postpartum symptomatology that exceed prevalence estimates for postpartum depression. There were no significant between group differences in physical activity levels, but differences in weight retention approached significance, with mothers who successfully sleep trained indicating that they were closer to their prepregancy weight, perhaps due in part to improved sleep. There were no significant between group differences in mothers’ preference for potential weight loss interventions, with mothers endorsing the highest level of interest in online interventions. Non-Sleep Trainers were significantly more likely to express interest in potential sleep training interventions, with most expressing interest in an online format as well. These results suggest that potential future interventions targeting postpartum weight retention should take the mother-infant dyad into account in study design, with both barrier reduction and infant sleep modification presenting possible targets for intervention.