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Parents Q & A: Should Kids Sleep in Bed with their Parents?

Each week we take questions, give advice and ask for your opinions.

The question "Should children sleep with parents?" is a very controversial one.  According to the National Sleep Foundation (NSF) as many as 24% of parents have their children sleep in their beds for at least part of the night. So, if you have a child who wanders into your bedroom at night, you're not alone. There are many advocates for sleep-sharing or co-sleeping which is defined as a parent regularly sharing a bed with their children and in many countries, the idea of the family bed is the norm.

There are some safety concerns that come with co-sleeping. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) is against bed sharing, however, admits that there are behavioral and electrophysiologic studies that make a strong case that co-sleeping makes breast-feeding easier and enhances mom-baby bonding. 

They also say epidemiologic studies show co-sleeping can be hazardous and can cause strangulation or SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome).  Many parents have rolled over on infants and smothered them. This is especially dangerous in early infancy when baby is little and mom and dad are exhausted. On the other hand, mothers who are breast feeding may find that one of the wonders of breast feeding is you don’t have to get out of bed to feed the baby and that the transition between wake and sleep is much less noticeable. There is also nothing quite as relaxing, nurturing and bonding as a sleeping infant lying on your chest.

Professionals and experts also think that the family bed (co-sleeping) could cause a great divide in marriages, especially if one parent isn’t excited or agreeing about the idea. Others feel that co-sleeping is not accepted and is a taboo and don't readily admit to sharing their bed with their children. 

Should kids sleep in their parent’s bed? If it works for you in your home, and things run smoothly because you co-sleep with your child and you don’t feel resentful about it, then it is the right decision for you.  If you are uncomfortable with it for any reason,then maybe it is not for your family.

With so many other issues to worry about in life and with these early years of childhood being so short, families should do what is right for them, in their own time and consider what's best for their own family structure.  I have three boys and I miss the days of my oldest coming in to cuddle with us! I know we only have a few years left with the other two so we embrace it!

Bjorn Olsson August 04, 2011 at 06:57 PM
We share bed with our baby and it has worked really well. We used a little flat protective "co-sleeper" with side protection for the first couple of months. We also put the mattress directly on the floor, to prevent falls. Seems to make sense biologically that the family stays together at night. Hard to imagine a stone age family leaving their infant in the next cave over. The funny thing is, when you talk to people about this, many do co-sleep and are afraid to tell their doctor. For us it has been only pros. No sleep deprivation, no accidents (knock on wood).
Dorothy Aguiar August 05, 2011 at 05:18 PM
You have to be really careful when the child is and infant because it could be deadly. I believe that children should sleep in their own bed because it teaches them to fall asleep by themselves and have better sleeping patterns which could effect them later in life.
Della August 05, 2011 at 05:36 PM
As long as they're not rolling over asking for the car keys I dont have a problem with it. They have no problem falling asleep anywhere and as long as they dont disturb my sleep (nothing good comes from a cranky mommy), I'll take it as long as I can. They eventually wont want to watch movies in bed or talk until they fall asleep. My husband gets the worst end of the deal.... I usually get their heads and he ends up with feet in his back :) He's usally the one putting them back in their beds which is good for us ;)
Anna Cabana September 22, 2011 at 03:19 PM
My little daughter slept with me after her father died. she'd already been abandoned by her biological parents and I think at age 3 and 4 was afraid of being abandoned again. Poor thing. Now she's ten and the thought of sleeping with me is almost horrifying to her! I think kids need to sleep in their own rooms and their own beds unless there is a TEMPORARY need for it. I'd rather her be strong and independent; she has to be, I don't have the luxury of not working and micro-managing her life. and sleeping in her own bed is a good foundation for that independence.

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