Co-sleeping has long been maligned for turning children into codependent little monsters who will never be able to sleep alone. But a new study of almost 1000 families finds that sleeping next to your kid won't hurt them. Which makes sense, because humans and a lot of other animals have been doing it for thousands of years. I mean, does your cat make her kittens sleep in the other room under a Babar mobile? Didn't think so.
For three years, researchers recorded the sleeping arrangements of 944 low-income parent-toddler pairs. When the children turned five, they were evaluated for behavioral, social, and cognitive outcomes. Lo and behold, there were "no behavioral or cognitive differences between children who bed-shared and those who did not." Although other factors, such as socioeconomic status, maternal education, parenting style, and ethnicity were shown to affect social skills and cognitive development.
Keep in mind that we're talking about toddlers over twelve months old. Co-sleeping with a child younger than that is still a big no-no, because it increases the likelihood of SIDS or a good old-fashioned squishing.
Proponents of bed-sharing ("hippies") tout the communal bed's power to encourage breastfeeding and increase the bond between mother and child. Opponents say it makes it hard for kids to sleep on their own, and makes parents anxious, presumably because they want to get away from their kids so that they can make more kids.
Turns out, science has no dog in this fight, and for maybe the first time ever researchers are allowing parents to use their discretion in deciding how to raise their children. Now, how often does that happen?
It's Ok to Share A Bed With Your Toddler, Study Finds [Live Science]