Toddler co-sleeping not associated with developmental issues, study says

by Deborah Braconnier report

(Medical Xpress) -- Researchers from the Stony Brook University School of Medicine in New York, led by Lauren Hale, released a new study in the August issue of Pediatrics that shows bed-sharing or co-sleeping with your toddler does not lead to an increased risk in behavioral or learning problems later in life.

While the American Academy of Pediatrics does caution against co-sleeping in the first year due to the increased risk of , or . This new study looked at over the age of one.

Co-sleeping is common in many countries and cultures, but still remains relatively uncommon in America. Parenting experts cannot seem to come to a regarding the topic with some being against it, some supporting it and the remainder unwilling to commit one way or another.

This new study looked at 944 low-income parent and toddler pairs. As a part of the Early Head Start Research and Evaluation Study, families were asked about sleeping arrangements each year between the years of age one and five. At age five, the child’s behavioral, cognitive and social outcomes were evaluated by the researchers.

At first the results were revealing a connection between negative behaviors and bed-sharing however, when other factors such as socioeconomic status, maternal education, ethnicity and parenting style were assesses, the connection to co-sleeping was ruled out as a cause.

One area that was not evaluated by the researchers was the reasoning behind the co-sleeping to begin with and outside researchers believe this could be important information. If co-sleeping is occurring because of economic reasons such as a need to share beds or as a parenting style in order to bond with the child, this is less likely to create behavioral issues. However, if co-sleeping is a result of poor sleep or trouble sleeping, this could be a first sign of possible developmental disorders.

For parents out there who choose to co-sleep with their toddlers, this study does provide reassurance that they are not affecting the development of their child negatively.

More information: Mother-Child Bed-sharing in Toddlerhood and Cognitive and Behavioral Outcomes, by R. Gabriela Barajas, MA, et al., Pediatrics, doi: 10.1542/peds.2010-3300

ABSTRACT
Objective: We examined the predictors and consequences of mother-child bed-sharing at 1, 2, and 3 years of age in a racially/ethnically and geographically diverse sample of low-income families across the United States.
Methods: We analyzed data from 944 low-income families who had children assessed at 1, 2, 3, and 5 years of age.
Results: Mothers who were Hispanic and black were more likely to bed-share with children at ages 1, 2, and 3 years than other mothers. Maternal negative regard also predicted bed-sharing. Bed-sharing at ages 1 to 3 years was bivariately associated with poorer behavior and cognition at age 5 years. However, these associations lost significance when child and mother characteristics were controlled.
Conclusion: There seem to be no negative associations between bed-sharing in toddlerhood and children's behavior and cognition at age 5 years.

Related Stories

Co-sleeping is key culprit in sudden infant deaths: study

Oct 13, 2009

More than half of sudden unexplained infant deaths occur while the infant is sharing a bed or a sofa with a parent (co-sleeping) and may be related to parents drinking alcohol or taking drugs, suggests a study published on ...

Stillbirth risk affected by mother's sleep position

Jun 16, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- In a new study published in the British Medical Journal, Tomasina Stacey from the University of Auckland’s Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology revealed that women who do not sleep ...

Recommended for you

The hunt for botanicals

Dec 19, 2014

Herbal medicine can be a double-edged sword and should be more rigorously investigated for both its beneficial and harmful effects, say researchers writing in a special supplement of Science.

Mozambique decriminalises abortion to stem maternal deaths

Dec 19, 2014

Mozambique has passed a law permitting women to terminate unwanted pregnancies under specified conditions, a move hailed by activists in a country where clandestine abortions account for a large number of maternal deaths.

User comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.