It can be a very emotional issue if you choose to debate it: Whether to go to sleep with your children in your bed or whether to make them sleep in their own rooms. You’ll find plenty of parents on both sides of the argument, and plenty of parents on both sides of the sleep situation — and the bed — whether they planned to be in that situation or not (case in point: I coslept with my daughter for over a year until she simply started sleeping through the night in her crib). For those who are against cosleeping, it seemed for years that there was plenty of evidence on their side to back up their claims that it was harmful: Bad for sleep habits, bad for the child’s emotional development, just plain bad.
However, a study released this week states unequivocally: cosleeping does no harm to your child’s learning and behavior development. Researchers looked at families who coslept between the ages of one and three, and assessed the children’s cognition and behavior at age 5. In doing their analysis, they looked at a range of factors that could affect the child’s development in addition to cosleeping. The results were clear: researchers determined that cosleeping with a child between the ages of one and three has virtually no bearing on the child’s cognitive or behavioral development. Any differences between children at age 5 could be atrributed to other factors which are proven to have impact on children — socioeconomic standing, maternal education and parenting skills. Or in other words, if you want to cosleep with your toddler, you can do so completely guilt-free.
This will come as welcome news to the many parents who cosleep for whatever reason — whether it’s what they had planned to do all along, or it’s the only way they can get their child to sleep, or any host of reasons parents may have. There is an enormous amount of societal pressure in the Western world to have children sleep in their own bed, although cosleeping is the norm in other societies. Hopefully, studies like this will give cosleeping parents the ammunition they need to use with those who are giving them “helpful” advice.
Photo Credit: Lars Plougmann on Flickr