Date Presented 04/22/2023

Low registration was stable over time, but sensory avoidance was not. Low registration is typically not a category in which a child will be physically active to self-regulate as a part of the profile.

Primary Author and Speaker: Bryan M. Gee

Contributing Authors: Nicki L. Aubuchon-Endsley

PURPOSE: Sleep is a primary occupation of infants and toddlers (Gronski & Doherty, 2020). Poor sleep duration has been associated with poor behavioral outcomes in infants, toddlers, and preschoolers (Touchette, et al., 2009). Further, disrupted sleep quality in infants can be associated with attentional problems in adolescents (O'Callaghan et al., 2010). There is evidence in the literature of a relationship between sleep quality and sensory processing differences among typical infants and toddlers. However, there is little research exploring such patterns among infants and toddlers living in rural and medically underserved areas in the U.S.

DESIGN: A prospective cohort design (n = 19–95) to examine associations examining relationships between sensory processing from 10 to 18 months postpartum and infant sleep at 18 months.

METHOD: Participants completed measures at 10, 14, and 18 months postpartum, including the Infant or Toddler Sensory Profile-2 and Infant Health and Sleep Questionnaire.

RESULTS: Infant total sleep duration at 18 months was unrelated to sensory profiles (i.e., inside versus outside of the majority range) across age and sensory domains. Similarly, the infant total sleep quality score at 18 months was unrelated to 10-month and 14-month sensory profiles, with one exception. Infants who fell within the majority range for registration at 10 months had greater sleep quality at 18 months (rpb=.329, p=.033, n=42).

DISCUSSION: Low sample sizes in the non-majority group may limit the replicability of findings, but a pattern emerged that might be noteworthy. Low registration was stable over time, but sensory avoidance was not. Low registration typically is not a category where a child will be physically active to self-regulate as a part of the profile, where sensory avoidance is a highly active response to internal or external sensations. The findings support Dunn’s model of sensory processing among infants/toddlers in rural areas.


O’Callaghan, F. V., Al Mamun, A., O’Callaghan, M., Clavarino, A., Williams, G. M., Bor, W., ... Najman, J. M. (2010). The link between sleep problems in infancy and early childhood and attention problems at 5 and 14 years: Evidence from a birth cohort study. Early Human Development, 86(7), 419-424

Touchette, E., Côté, S. M., Petit, D., Liu, X., Boivin, M., Falissard, B., ... Montplaisir, J. Y. (2009). Short nighttime sleep-duration and hyperactivity trajectories in early childhood. Pediatrics, 124(5), e985-e993.

Dunn, W. (2014). Sensory Profile 2 User’s Manual. Pearson.

Gronski, M., & Doherty, M. (2020). Interventions within the scope of occupational therapy practice to improve activities of daily living, rest, and sleep for children ages 0–5 years and their families: A systematic review. The American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 74(2), 7402180010p1-7402180010p33.