**Please note, we are referring to older children in this article not babies. Experts warn that there is a risk of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) while co-sleeping with younger children.**
Do you wake up to find your children have crept into your bed during the night?
Good news! Researchers claim kids who like to co-sleep with you are more likely to become confident, clever and secure adults.
So, the next time you find yourself pushed to the edge of the bed or have the bedsheets pulled from you, rest assured your kids will be successful later on in life.
Kids who sleep in your bed at night become intelligent and confident adults
According to Healthy Child, research has shown that the proximity of the parents may help the infant’s immature nervous system learn to self-regulate during sleep.
A study by Lewis & Janda found that boys who co-sleep with their parents between birth and five years old had significantly higher self-esteem and had less anxiety.
Co-sleeping is said to promote confidence, self-esteem as well as higher scores at school (Forbes et al. 1992, The co-sleeping habits of military children Military Medicine).
This study found that kids who had never slept in bed with their parents were harder to control, had more tantrums and were more fearful than other kids.
Are there any negative effects to sharing a bed with your kids?
In another study published in an article in Psychology Today, experts found there are no negative effects to sharing a bed with your kids.
Researchers at the Stony Brook University School of Medicine looked at the sleep habits of 944 low-income families for a period of several years.
The children were aged between one and three and their cognitive and behavioural development was assessed as well as things like the level they were at when it came to math and literacy skills, social skills and hyperactivity.
They found that co-sleeping during the toddler years does not negatively affect development by the age of five.
Experts say kids should only sleep in bed with their parents if their parents do not smoke, haven’t consumed alcohol or drugs and there is no risk.
Will kids ever sleep on their own if their parents let them co-sleep?
A common misconception is that if kids sleep in with their parents they will never leave.
Studies show that co-sleeping with parents doesn’t necessarily mean that children will want to stay in their parents’ bed. Culturally, sleeping in the same bed has been practised for many generations across the globe.
Midwife and lactation specialist Bel Moore says there are many benefits for children sleeping in bed with their parents.
Why do people co-sleep? What are the benefits?
- Skin-to-skin contact – it promotes the release of oxytocin, a powerful hormone that strengthens the bond between people. It also calms, soothes and regulates temperature and heart rate.
- Easy breastfeeding access – mothers who share a bed with their baby tend to breastfeed for longer, both exclusively and in total length. Breastfeeding is strongly and consistently associated with decrease in SIDS risk.
- More sleep – although they may have more wake ups, they are usually in tune with their caregivers and therefore less time awake. The awakenings are also less disruptive.
Is co-sleeping safe?
Co-sleeping safety is a complex subject that encompasses many factors.
SIDS and Kids report that there is insufficient evidence to issue a blanket statement either for or against co-sleeping. Their current recommendation to reduce SIDS is: having baby sleep in a cot next to their caregiver’s bed for the first six to twelve months of life.
The following things increase the risk of SIDS or sleeping accidents when combined with co sleeping:
- Caregivers who are smokers and/or obese.
- Where there is adult bedding that may cover the baby.
- Where the baby can be trapped between the wall and bed, can fall out of the bed or be rolled onto.
- When the parent is under the influence of drugs or alcohol or is extremely tired.
- Where the sleep surface is a sofa, lounge, beanbag or sagging mattress.
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