NEW YORK — A majority of parents feel no shame in sharing a bed with their little ones. In fact, seven in 10 believe the act should be normalized rather than stigmatized (71%).
The OnePoll study of 2,000 parents of kids under 10 reveals that 78 percent are aware of the pros and cons of co-sleeping with their children – whether in the same room or bed.
Eighty-eight percent prefer co-sleeping with their kids because they believe it makes them feel closer to them. Other reasons parents cited for why they co-sleep are that their families get more sleep (62%), they want to make their kids feel safe and secure (62%), and bonding (52%).
“I am mostly for flexible parenting in order to meet the needs of each family and reassessing those needs frequently. In the infant stage, preserving sleep is of utmost importance for managing parental mental health and the answer for many may be safe co-sleeping,” clinical psychologist Dr. Nicole Amoyal Pensak, owner of Atlantic Coast Mind & Body, tells StudyFinds. “As the baby gets older, my preference is to keep orienting the baby or child back to independent sleep. If co-sleeping occurs, my recommendation is have it be occasional, and keep trying for independent sleep, especially if it is effecting a spouse or disruptive to any family member’s sleep. It is important for each child to learn how to fall asleep.”
It’s especially helpful for new moms. More than half (53%) see it as a benefit to making breastfeeding easier.
Dr. James McKenna, emeritus director of the Mother-Baby Behavioral Sleep Laboratory at the University of Notre Dame, notes the safest way to co-sleep with children is by breastfeeding or “breastsleeping” – a term he coined in his research, revealing the physiological and behavioral advantages for both mother and infant.
“Most mothers, in today’s age, don’t think they’re going to bedshare at all, but, of course, all human infants are ‘contact seekers’ as their survival depends on contact, so they navigate closer and closer to their mothers, teaching them that bedsharing meets her needs,” McKenna says in a statement. “(Mom) gets more sleep, as the infant is happier and more settled, which means the baby doesn’t cry.”
Does sharing a room hurt parental relationships?
McKenna also cited that “breastsleeping” prompts more infant arousals when sleeping, which could help reduce the risk of SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome).
“This could be especially important in light of the new Australian study that found a particular biomarker that could potentially signal a distinct infant vulnerability to SIDS,” the researcher says.
In the OnePoll survey, the parents who co-sleep shared how they do so with their kids. A quarter say their children currently snooze in their room but in separate beds, and a similar percentage currently sleep in the same bed as their kids.
Despite the many advantages co-sleeping provides, most parents have experienced one of the downsides. Eight in 10 parents admit that co-sleeping with their children and partners has strained their relationships (82%).
Men were slightly more likely to feel their relationships were at risk than women due to co-sleeping (83% vs. 81%). Only six percent of all parents think co-sleeping as a family hasn’t affected their relationships at all. In fact, three in four would rather sleep with their children than their significant others (75%).
Time to get your own room
While 51 percent say they co-slept with their parents as young children, 76 percent believe kids today should eventually learn how to fall asleep independently. Forty-three percent have successfully sleep-trained their kids, and 23 percent don’t plan to do so at all. A fifth of parents admit they tried sleep training their children but failed.
Whether they were successful or not, 46 percent have tried the Ferber method of letting a child cry for a certain amount of time before comforting them. A quarter let their kids “cry it out,” which involves letting a child cry themselves to sleep (24%).
Seventeen percent did the camping out method (patting or stroking a child off to sleep and then gradually moving away), and only eight percent tried the fading method (putting to bed a drowsy child and then gradually moving away).