Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child
Bed Sharing in the First 6 Months
June 6, 2022

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Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child

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Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child

5th Edition: 
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A Healthy Child Needs a Healthy Brain, A Healthy Brain Needs Healthy Sleep

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.

Blog 82Bed Sharing in the First 6 Months


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.


  1. How do we transition out of co-sleeping? My son is 12 weeks and won’t fall asleep unless he’s on the breast. Even in his sleep he looks to nuzzle in. I’ve tried a dummy but he won’t take it. In the day he won’t sleep unless he’s fed to sleep and then wakes if I put him in his cot or moses basket downstairs. He does sleep in his pram / in the car but wakes when the movement stops. I’ve tried rocking him to sleep which gets him to drift off, he just can’t stay asleep and wakes within 10 minutes. Grateful for any advice.

    1. First, determine exactly what is your goal.
      Second, read the Chapter on Sleep Solutions in my book and choose one that comports with your values.
      Then, I might be able to give you some individualized advice.

  2. Primary aim is to have him sleeping in his cot (which is a ‘next to me cot’ beside our bed. He also naps in My arms and wakes up after 5-20minutes after I put him down so learning to self settle is also a priority. My husband and I would choose to try Extinction.

    1. Excellent. I suggest that you start on a Friday night so there is more help during the day on the week-end. Please keep a written record and start only if you can commit to a 3-5 day trial. Because he is 12 weeks of age and night sleep rhythms begins to get organized at 6 weeks of age, focus on night sleep. Day sleep rhythms begin to develop around 4-6 months of age, so you might do whatever works during the day to maximize sleep and minimize crying, for now. Try to keep the intervals of wakefulness brief during the day to prevent presleep arousal.

      To help you succeed, please read or reread Blog Posts 25, 26, 71, 105-107, and 155.
      Please let me know how it goes.

  3. Thank you so much for your advice. Our son will be 16 weeks tomorrow and we have been doing extinction for 14 nights now. He has responded well and is now sleeping in his cot! He went down yesterday, for the first time without crying at 5.42pm. He sleeps soundly until 2am after which he has multiple awakenings and struggles to settle sometimes crying for 30+minutes. I picked him up at 4am today as was crying hard for 40minutes and the day before at 5am for a feed after which he slept until 7am.

    Other than the above we have had to go to him in the night on night 4 – to check his nappy (he’d had green poos before bed) and night 9 when he cried so long and hard I thought he was sick- nothing could settle him so I fed him at 2am. I think those 2 days did set us back but not sure what the cause of his consistent early morning awakenings. Do you have any advice?

    His naps are variable but he gets 90minutes between 8.30-10am in his cot – he wakes and cries for 10minutes at about 9am but settled eventually. His afternoon nap is less successful, he’ll sleep in his cot for 30minutes after which he cries- yesterday I left him for 30minutes but he didn’t settle so I fed him to sleep and he woke at 1.45pm. His afternoon nap is only about 30minutes.

    1. Please share with me his falling asleep times for the past 10-14 nights.
      Please describe in detain his usual mood and behavior when he is alone with toys (no screens or parental involvement) between 4-5pm these last 10-14 days.

  4. He doesn’t like to play by himself at these times, fussy, often crying and requiring entertainment with singing or bouncing.

    Night 10
    6.35pm down in crib crying – quiet at 6.37pm

    Night 11
    5.55pm down in crib crying – quiet at 5.57

    Night 12
    6pm down in crib crying- quiet at 6.02pm

    Night 13
    6.13pm down in crib crying – quiet at 6.38pm- I think this was due to him napping from 4.45-5.20pm

    Night 14
    5.43 down and quiet

    1. “He doesn’t like to play by himself at these times, fussy, often crying and requiring entertainment with singing or bouncing.” This is presleep arousal that interferes with easily falling asleep or staying asleep or both. For the next 3-5 nights, strictly do your customary bathing, feeding, and soothing and leave the room at 5:30pm (the expected falling asleep time). With this earlier bedtime, soon (over the next 4-8 weeks) the morning nap will improve, then the midday nap. Once this happens and you notice how happy, independent, and calm he is between 4-5pm, the bedtime will be shifted later based on drowsy signs (ss Blog Post 115X). How does this sound?

    2. Do not let a new nap begin at or after 3:00 pm in order to get this temporary super early bedtime. If he is asleep at 3pm, do not wake him.

    1. During the day, please do whatever works to maximize day sleep and minimize crying. Read about the ‘nap drill’ in my book for future reference after night sleep has improved. Sound good?

  5. Just to clarify at night when he wakes should I let him cry it out? I’ve taken to feeding him the first time he properly wakes up- anytime between 1140pm-2am. This usually settles him for 2-3 hours. After this he is usually crying on and off until he’s picked up which we aim to get to 6am.

    1. Previously, you wrote, “Thank you so much for your advice. Our son will be 16 weeks tomorrow and we have been doing extinction for 14 nights now.” Please read the Chapter on Sleep Solutions, pick a method that you feel comfortable with and be consistent. If you are doing extinction, then feed him when he is hungry but ignore him if he is not in distress. Does this help?

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