What We Do

The University of Notre Dame Mother-Baby Behavioral Sleep Lab is both a research and teaching laboratory within the Department of Anthropology.

Upper level undergraduate students at Notre Dame can gain firsthand experience conducting cutting-edge research examining issues of national and international significance. These issues include the safety of different sleep environments as well as the physiological and/or psychological consequences of the choice of sleeping arrangements parents make. 

Using traditional anthropological methods and laboratory observations, our research addresses clinically important pediatric questions like:

  • What is the basis by which parents make decisions about how and where their infants and children sleep?
  • How closely do parents abide by their own descriptions of sleeping arrangements?
  • How satisfied are parents with their children's sleep? What factors influence how parents evaluate their own and their children’s' sleep?
  • How do breast-feeding and bottle-feeding families vary in regard to sleep and feeding behaviors?
  • How do breast-feeding and bottle-feeding parents evaluate their nighttime restfulness? 

  • What do parents remember or forget about their previous nights caregiving behavior?
  • Do mothers and fathers differ in their nighttime caregiving? If so, how?
  • How responsive are men vs. women to their infant's nighttime needs or sounds?
  • To what extent do parents change their attitudes about where and how infants should sleep over time?
  • To what extent are parents knowledgeable about safety issues and/or how to minimize the chance of injuries to infants or children during sleep? 

  • Find out more about Dr. James McKenna
  • Contact Dr. McKenna