Sleep: there’s little most of us parents wouldn’t do to get more of it. And now, those of us who allow toddlers to creep into bed with us at night can rest a bit easier, according to a new study published online today in the journal Pediatrics, which found that bed sharing with toddlers does not lead to social or developmental issues by the time the kids reach kindergarten.
Although the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) counsels against sharing a bed, or co-sleeping, with an infant because of the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), the AAP and the study authors agree that once a child reaches one year of age, bed sharing is simply a matter of family preference.
For the study, researchers interviewed 944 low-income families and looked at whether kids slept in the same bed as their parents at ages 1, 2, and 3. They then assessed the children’s cognitive and behavioral development at age 5—and found that bed sharing did not have a negative impact on the children’s math, early literacy, or social skills.
Regardless of the motivation behind the bed-sharing, be it ease of nighttime breastfeeding, household crowding, safety, security, or sleeping problems, the researchers agree that of the utmost importance is a good night of sleep for everyone. So, if bed-sharing is disruptive for either parent or the child, it leads to a game of musical beds, or it negatively impacts a child’s ability to self-soothe, then it might not be the best option—but if it works for everyone in your family, then there’s no reason you should feel compelled to send your toddler off to bed in his own room.
What are the sleeping arrangements at your house? Do your kids stay in their rooms, or do they ever sneak into bed with you?