Skip to main content

Bed-sharing does no harm – and no good – to a child's behavioural or social development, says a new American study that begs the question, is co-sleeping all about the parent?

The study followed 944 low-income parent-toddler pairs from the time the child was one to three years old. The researchers asked about the children's sleeping arrangements and examined a number of behavioural, social and cognitive outcomes when they turned five, as well as maternal parenting style.

"After statistical adjustment for socio-demographic characteristics, there were no behavioural or cognitive differences at age 5 between children who bed-shared with a parent during their toddler years and those who did not," study researcher Lauren Hale, of Stony Brook University, told LiveScience.

Story continues below advertisement

Proponents argue that co-sleeping makes breast-feeding and bedtimes easier, and that it promotes bonding between mother and child. Detractors such as Erica Jong suggest that co-sleeping (and breastfeeding and baby slings) have trounced parents' sex lives.

Meanwhile, other studies have shown that bed-sharing with a child can increase the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), under certain conditions.

The Canadian Paediatric Society recommends that for the first year of life, "the safest place for babies to sleep is in their own crib, and in the parent's room for the first six months."

"Parents should also be aware that room-sharing is protective against SIDS and that this type of sleeping arrangement is a safer alternative to bed-sharing. This may be particularly appealing to mothers who breastfeed and want their baby to be near them without sharing the same bed surface."

Where does this leave you on the issue of co-sleeping?

Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Comments

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed.

If your comment doesn't appear immediately it has been sent to a member of our moderation team for review

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.