Bedsharing in toddlers does not result in behavioral, cognitive deficits

July 28, 2011

Although parents still need to be warned that allowing infants to sleep in adult beds is a dangerous practice that should be avoided, bedsharing with toddlers does not seem to negatively affect their behavior or cognition, according to a new study. Find out what may cause those problems.

Although parents still need to be warned that allowing infants to sleep in adult beds is a dangerous practice that should be avoided, bed sharing with toddlers does not seem to negatively affect their behavior or cognition, according to a new study.

The AAP recommends against bedsharing during infancy because of its association with sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), but relatively little has been known about the effects of the practice in somewhat older children.

The Stony Brook University Medical Center study analyzed data on mothers and children from 944 low-income families and found that, at age 5, poorer social skills and cognition were found in children who regularly shared a bed with their parent during the night, but that the cause appeared to be related to sociodemographic factors and not the practice itself. Status of bedsharing was assessed at 1, 2, and 3 years of age.

“Our study finds that bedsharing is several times more common among black and Hispanic mothers than among non-Hispanic white mothers,” said Lauren Hale, PhD, associate professor of preventive medicine. “The study also indicates that after adjusting for these and other sociodemographic differences in who bedshares, there are no statistically significant differences in cognitive and behavioral outcomes at age 5 between children who bedshared in toddlerhood and those who did not.”

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