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Department of Anthropology: Parent-Infant Sleep Lab

 Parent-Infant Sleep Lab

The Parent-Infant Sleep Lab is a Department of Anthropology research lab, and a research centre of the Faculty of Social Sciences and Health and the Wolfson Institute for Health & Well-being. It is the home for a group of researchers examining various aspects of infant and child sleep and parenting behaviour. The lab itself was opened in 2000, while the research programmes it houses have been in operation since 1995. The Sleep Lab provides opportunities for undergraduate and postgraduate students to become involved in our research, and we welcome enquiries. As our research team has grown our research focus has broadened to cover infant and child sleep ecology, sleep development, sleep safety, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), parental sleep, night-time infant care, feeding practices, thermal care and infant thermoregulation during sleep, twin infant sleep behaviour and physiology, postnatal ward environments and maternal-infant sleep, cross cultural infant care practices, and the evaluation of interventions affecting parental and infant sleep. We collaborate with academics from a wide range of disciplines around the world, and with a variety of research users. We created and run the Infant Sleep Info Source website for parents and health professionals in order to make academic infant sleep research findings available to parents and health professionals.


Our research wins Durham University the Queen's Anniversary Prize

Durham University has been awarded the Queen’s Anniversary Prize for Higher Education - the highest accolade for any academic institution and part of the national honours system in the United Kingdom. The prize from the Royal Anniversary Trust has been awarded for ‘leading influential research on parent-infant sleep with a widely-used public information service’. The awards are approved by The Queen on the advice of the Prime Minister from recommendations made by the Royal Anniversary Trust. Durham University’s Vice-Chancellor, Professor Stuart Corbridge, commented: “We are hugely honoured to receive this prestigious award, which recognises the immensely valuable and wide-reaching impact of the research carried out by the team in the Parent-Infant Sleep Lab. At Durham, we aim to deliver research that is world-leading and world-changing and the work of the Parent-Infant Sleep Lab is a perfect example of this commitment.” See: Research that helps parents and babies...

How studying sleeping babies led to Royal prize

The University has been awarded the Queen’s Anniversary Prize for Higher Education for ‘leading influential research on parent-infant sleep with a widely-used public information service’. We caught up with the Director of the Parent-Infant Sleep Lab, Professor Helen Ball, to find out more about the research journey.

(8 Dec 2017) » More about how studying sleeping babies led to Royal prize

New Assistant Professor Dr Cecilia Tomori joins Sleep Lab Team

A new permanent member of staff has been appointed in the Anthropology Department to join the Parent-Infant Sleep Lab team. Dr Cecilia Tomori, who completed her PhD in Anthropology at the University of Michigan, and joins Durham from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore, Maryland, US, was appointed to the post of Assistant Professor commencing August 2017. Dr Tomori is the author of Nighttime Breastfeeding: An American Cultural Dilemma (Berghahn 2014) and (with Drs. Palmquist and Quinn) Breastfeeding: New Anthropological Approaches (Routledge 2017).

(15 Nov 2017)

Latest Publications

  • Ball, Helen L. (2017). Evolution-informed maternal-infant health. Nature Ecology & Evolution 1(3): 0073.
  • Ball, Helen L. (2017). The Atlantic Divide: contrasting U.K. & U.S. recommendations on cosleeping and bed-sharing. Journal of Human Lactation 33(4): 765-769.
  • Bartick, Melissa, Tomori, Cecília & Ball, Helen L. (2017). Babies in boxes and the missing links on safe sleep: Human evolution and cultural revolution. Maternal & Child Nutrition e12544
  • Robinson-Smith, Lyn & Ball, Helen L. (2017). Sleep and cognitive function in young children. The International Journal of Birth and Parent Education 5(1): 27-30.
  • Sullivan, S.S. & Ball H.L. (2017). Early Childhood Pediatric Sleep Concerns for Parents: Co-sleeping. In Reference Module in Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Psychology. Stein, John Elsevier.
  • Tomori, Cecilia (2017). The Inequities of Nighttime Breastfeeding. In Breastfeeding, Social Justice, and Equity. Smith, Paige Hall, Labbok, Miriam & Chambers, Brittany Praeclarus Press. 231-238.

To view all Sleep Lab related publications, click here.

Contact Details

Parent-Infant Sleep Lab
Ebsworth Building
Queen's Campus
Durham University
TS17 6BH
Tel: 0191 334 0260

Infant Sleep Info Source