A part of you wants your little pea to forever be a cute adorable baby. But you know that's not possible and that there would come a time when you'd have to let go slowly. For most parents, this happens during the toddler years, when the child is placed in a separate bedroom. The belief was, bed sharing with toddlers can cause behavioral and learning problems. So parents think that they're doing their child a favor by putting him/her in another room.
However, new research shows that this isn't necessarily true. The American Academy of Pediatrics discourages bed sharing during infancy as this increases the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). But no evidence supports the theory that bed sharing can cause problems among toddlers.
False Negative Study Result
Bed sharing, otherwise known as co-sleeping, is in fact common in other countries. In the United States, many parents forgo the practice to cultivate early independence and to prevent behavioral and learning problems, as they are used to believing in. A study from the Columbia University in New York dismisses that theory as folklore. The new research indicate that sharing the bed with the parents do not pose any cognitive or behavioral problems among toddlers.
The findings of the study, which were published in the August issue of Pediatrics, indicate that children who shared their bed with parents from ages 1 to 3 were more prone to behavioral and cognitive problems by the time they reach the age of 5. But it was also indicated in the study that the bigger factors that played a role in this are socio-demographic settings and maternal educational levels.
This study involved 944 low-income families. It's also important to look at the reason for co-sleeping, as this may be the key to unlocking the information regarding this matter. The researchers suggest that the risk associated with bed sharing can be accounted to the reason why the child is sharing bed with parents. Since the study only involved low-income families, it's safe to assume that it would be economic reasons.
If you're going to look at high-income families, their primary reason for co-sleeping would be to cultivate close bond with the children. Many researchers believe that the problems associated with bed sharing isn't rooted from the practice itself but from the reason behind it. If the parents and children are in a harmonious relationship sharing beds in a comfortable environment that is conducive to sleep, then no problem with cognition or behavior would arise.
In low-income families, however, discomfort and lack of space in the bedroom make sleeping a challenge for both the parents and children. This contributes to sleep deprivation, which is said to be the cause of developmental problems in toddlers.
Whatever your sleeping arrangement with your child is, it is important that a comfortable sleeping environment is provided. Equally important is the communication with the child. It is essential to help him/her understand why your sleeping arrangement is such (whether it's for the purpose of independence-cultivation or promoting close bonding) so he/she would know that it is for his/her own good.