If you have not already done so, please read Blog Posts 1 through 5 that describe how sleep is important and beneficial. I will post specific information for parents and children based on my book, “Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child.” Please do not be put off by my book’s length. This is a reference book. Read only the topic of interest to you.
A 2021 study by Drs. Ayten Bilgin and Dieter Wolke examined babies at term (about 40 weeks gestational age), 3, 6, and 18 months. They investigated whether bed-sharing during the first 6 months was associated with specific outcomes, shown below, at 18 months:
• Infant-mother attachment
• Infant behavioral outcomes
• Maternal bonding
• Maternal sensitivity
• Maternal depressive symptoms
• Infant night-waking and latency to sleep
• Breast feeding
Conclusion: At 18 months of age, bed-sharing during the first 6 months is associated with none of the outcomes, shown above, except for more frequent night-waking.
“Infants who were bed-sharing had higher frequency of night-waking consistently over the first 18 months. Thus, these findings suggest that concurrent infant sleeping difficulties [frequent night waking at 18 months] are associated with bed-sharing rather than the influence of preexisting difficulties in sleeping.” In other words, in this study, the direction of effects is not that early infant sleep difficulties causes bed-sharing, rather, it is early infant bed-sharing, beginning at term, that causes sleep difficulties at 3, 6, and 18 months.
“Thus, there is not yet enough evidence to support or refute the primary message of the supporters of bed-sharing, which suggests that bed sharing is an evolutionary meaningful and natural practice with several benefits to the infant and mother.”
Bed-sharing is discouraged by the American Academy of Pediatrics because it increases the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.
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