shows the distribution of the prevalence of bedtime routines for all children in the sample in the first column. In the second through fifth columns, the distribution is shown contingent upon having a bedtime, using a bedtime (4 or more of the last 5 weeknights), having a routine, and using a routine (4 or more of the last 5 weeknights). As shown, 81% of children in the sample have a bedtime, but only 67% of the sample used a bedtime. Of those sample children who use a bedtime, just 5% are put to bed before 8:00 p.m., 39% between 8:00 and 8:59 p.m., 46% between 9:00 and 9:59 p.m., and 11% at 10:00 p.m. or later. On the one hand the 81% of children who use a bedtime, fewer than half are put to bed before the commonly used U.S. based recommendation of 9:00 PM.9
Furthermore, although 81% of sample children are reported to have a bedtime routine, only 71% are reported to have engaged in a bedtime routine on 4 of the last 5 weeknights. Sixty percent of children engage in an interactive routine with their parents and 58% have a hygiene-related routine. Non-interactive routines (26%), television or video watching (11%), eating (15%) are less common. While these types of routines are not mutually exclusive, the majority of families report having only one (22%) or two (35%) types of routines. Fewer than 6% of all households have 4 or 5 bedtime routines. The most common overlapping of bedtime routines is interactive routines with hygiene-related routines.
Prevalence of bedtime routines
shows selected social and demographic characteristics of our sample and the distribution of these characteristics across the bedtime and bedtime routine variables. Twenty-two percent of the mothers in the sample are white, 26% are Hispanic and 48% are black, and the remaining are of other or unknown race/ethnicity. Over half of the children have their biological father present (51%), 39% live with a single mother, and 9% have a social father (i.e., stepfather or unrelated, cohabiting romantic partner of their mother) present. We grouped cohabiting and married families together with regard to both biological and social father presence. Just over one third of the mothers in the sample (34%) did not graduate from high school and about 38% had “permanent” (i.e., mean) incomes that were, on average, at or below poverty during the first three years of the child’s life. In the unadjusted results, mothers of other race/ethnicity are more likely to report that their child has a regular bedtime (88%) than white mothers (83%), black mothers (82%), and Hispanic mothers (78%). Yet, white mothers are more likely to report regular use of the bedtime at 72%, compared to 65% for Hispanic mothers, 66% for black mothers, and 68% for mothers of other racial or ethnic groups. White mothers are also more likely to report having (90%) and using a bedtime routine (83%) than all of the other groups. Family structure is also associated with having and using bedtimes and bedtime routines: families that include a social father are most likely to report having (86%) and using (69%) a bedtime, whereas those that include the child’s biological father are most likely to report having (83%) and using (74%) a bedtime routine. Single mother families are least likely to engage in regular use of bedtime routines (68%). Higher income families and those in which mothers have higher levels of educational attainment are more likely to engage in all of the bedtime-related activities than their lower income families and those with less educated mothers.
Distribution of bedtime routines by key demographic characteristics
Tables and show our regression results. The first four models in utilize the dichotomous bedtime-related behavior variables as outcomes. As such, we estimate logistic regressions and report the results in odds ratios. The fifth model utilizes a continuous measure of a child’s actual bedtime in hours. As such, we estimate an OLS regression and present the resulting coefficients.
Regression results for predictors of having and using bedtime and bedtime routines
Regression results for predictors of types of bedtimes routines
Column 1 of presents results for whether the child has a regular bedtime. Race/ethnicity is not a statistically significant predictor of this outcome. Children of single mothers and those with a social father present are more likely to have a bedtime (OR=1.36, p<.01 and OR=1.84, p<.001, respectively) compared to children with their biological father present. Children whose mothers have less than a high school education are 27% less likely (OR=.73, p<.05) to have a bedtime than those who have a mother with more than a high school education. Children whose mothers took the verbal test in Spanish are nearly twice as likely (OR=1.94, p<.01) to have a bedtime as those whose mothers took the PPVT-R in English.
Column 2 presents results for whether a child used his or her bedtime on 4 or more of the 5 weeknights prior to the interview. Statistically significant relationships are only observed for the race/ethnicity of the mother: children of Hispanic and black mothers are 29% (OR=.71, p<.01) and 22% (OR=.78, p<.05) less likely, respectively, to use their bedtimes than children of white mothers.
Results for whether the child has any bedtime routine are shown in the third column. Here, we find that race/ethnicity, maternal education, whether the mother took the test in Spanish, the number of children and adults in the household, and the number of bedrooms in the housing unit are significant predictors. Children of Hispanic and black mothers are less likely to have bedtime routines (OR=.74, p<.10 and OR=0.55, p<.001, respectively) than are children of white mothers. Children whose mothers have a high school education or less are less likely to have bedtime routines (OR=0.68, p<.01 and OR=0.70, p<.01, respectively) than those whose mothers have more than a high school education. The number of adults and children are inversely associated with having a bedtime routine, whereas the number of bedrooms in the house is positively associated with this outcome.
Results for using a bedtime routine on four or more of the 5 weeknights prior to the interview are similar to those for whether the child has a bedtime routine with regard to race/ethnicity, number of people in the household, and number of bedrooms in the housing unit. In contrast, however, the association between the mother’s educational attainment and using a bedtime routine is statistically non-significant. That is, while in column 3, there is a significant and positive gradient between mother’s education and her preschooler having a bedtime routine, actual use of a bedtime routine appears unrelated to educational attainment.
Hour of bedtime (column 5) is predicted by child age, mother’s race/ethnicity, maternal education, number of children in the household, poverty level, maternal work, and whether the mother took the Spanish version of the PPVT-R. Older children, children of Hispanic mothers, black mothers, and mothers in the “other” race/ethnicity category have later bedtimes than younger children and those whose mothers are white. Bedtimes are slightly earlier in homes with more children and those in which the mother does not work (p<.10), and slightly later in households with incomes between one and two times the poverty line and those in which the mother has less than a high school education (p<.10) or took the test in Spanish.
The models presented in examine associations of sociodemographic characteristics and particular types of bedtime routines. A greater number of sociodemographic factors are associated with interactive routines (reading, storytelling, prayer, etc.) and hygiene-related routines than with the other types of bedtime routines. The use of interactive routines is positively associated with maternal age, education, and PPVT-R score, as well as family income-to-poverty status and the number of bedrooms in the housing unit. It is negatively associated with the number of children and adults in the household. Additionally, black mothers are less likely to engage in interactive bedtime routines than white mothers (OR=.71, p<.01). Turning to hygiene-related routines, we find they are less common among families with non-white mothers than those with white mothers (OR=.73, p<.01; OR=.77, p<.05; and OR=.62, p<.05 for black, Hispanic, and those in the “other” race/ethnicity category, respectively), and that their use is positively associated with a child being female, maternal education, maternal work, maternal PPVT-R score, and the number of bedrooms in the household, and negatively associated with child age, the family being in poverty, the number of adults in the household, and the mother taking the test in Spanish.
We also find some significant associations of the sociodemographic factors with the other types of bedtime routines. Non-interactive bedtime routines are less common among black mothers (OR=.72, p<.01) than white mothers, positively associated with maternal age and PPVT-R score, and negatively associated with maternal full-time work and the mother taking the PPVT-R in Spanish. Television and video watching are less common among children of black and Hispanic mothers (OR=0.59, p<.001 and OR=.69, p<.05, respectively) than those of white mothers. They are also positively associated with maternal work, and negatively associated with child age, maternal PPVT-R score, and the number of bedrooms in the household. Finally, with regard to whether a child’s bedtime routine involves eating, we find that black mothers and those reporting in the “other” race/ethnicity category are less likely to give their children a snack or food before bedtime (OR=.70, p<.05 and OR=.49, p<.05) than white mothers, that child age and the mother having taken the test in Spanish are negatively associated with the child eating before bed.