Fall in Love with the Family Bed

Although popular media has worked hard to put a negative spin on co-sleeping, scientific evidence proves otherwise. Co-sleeping has innumerable benefits for everyone in the family. Learn more about the benefits of co-sleeping with your children.

Benefits at a glance: increased self-esteem, experience less behavioral problems, are less prone to peer pressure and report more happiness and general satisfaction with life

Encourages independence

While it is commonly believed that co-sleeping will create clingy, dependent children, research proves that the opposite is true. Children who share sleep with their parents develop independence earlier and need less transitional objects because they do not experience separation anxiety. "When a child routinely goes to sleep in the presence of an adult, or with an adult holding her, it's extremely rare to find thumb sucking or attachment to security objects," explains Dr. Jay Gordon, author of Good Nights: The Happy Parents' Guide to the Family Bed.

Builds self esteem

Children who have grown up in a family bed have increased self-esteem, experience less behavioral problems, are less prone to peer pressure and report more happiness and general satisfaction with life. They are less likely to suffer from stress disorders than children who did not share sleep with their parents.

Promotes physical and mental well-being

In addition to psychological benefits, babies who co-sleep appear to thrive better.

Parenting expert and pediatrician Dr. William Sears explains, "Over the past thirty years of observing sleep-sharing families in our pediatric practice, we have noticed one medical benefit that stands out; these babies thrive. 'Thriving' means not only getting bigger, but also growing to your full potential, emotionally, physically and intellectually. Perhaps it's the extra touch that stimulates development, or perhaps the extra feedings (yes, sleep-sharing infants breastfeed more often than solo sleepers)."

Reduces risk of stress disorders and SIDS

In his years of research on co-sleeping, Harvard psychiatrist Michael Commons has discovered that babies who sleep alone are at increased risk for SIDS and stress disorders. Co-sleeping babies sleep in physiological harmony with their mothers. The proximity of the mother and infant actually regulates the infant's breathing, sleep state, arousal patterns, heart rates and body temperature. Babies who are left to cry alone experience elevated levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which causes damage to the developing brain. "It makes you more prone to the effects of stress, more prone to illness, including mental illness and makes it harder to recover from illness," explains Commons.

Easier for nursing moms

Nursing moms who co-sleep with their babies report feeling better rested. Because they do not have to leave the bed to nurse, their sleep patterns are less disturbed and they feel more alert and focused during the daytime.

Promotes family closeness

Children raised in the family bed lifestyle develop close bonds with their family and report more feelings of connectedness and happiness than children who sleep alone. Sleeping together provides more hours in each day for family members to connect and share loving, nurturing moments under the sweet breath of sleep.

Interested in sharing sleep with your children? Make sure to follow safe co-sleeping practices. >>

More on co-sleeping

Tips for safe co-sleeping
Co-sleeping: The equivalent of putting your baby to bed with a butcher knife?
Twin co-sleeping deaths: Who is responsible?


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Comments on "6 Benefits of co-sleeping with your children"

DavonneParks.com January 08, 2014 | 5:19 AM

I think the low stress/closeness things this article discusses has a lot to do with the mentality of the parents. For example, a parent who co-sleeps is probably more likely to go to their crying child during the day as well instead of letting them cry it out. I think that if they did a study on children who's parents do these things during the day but sleep separately at night, they'd find very similar results.

Kim January 06, 2014 | 7:58 PM

There are references listed throughout the article. It also gives a suggested article for safe co-sleeping practices.

CC January 04, 2014 | 5:42 AM

So where is the published references for your articles evidence? The scientific evidence it reduces SIDs? Back sleeping in children no matter where they sleep has reduced sids, but more babies die co sleeping then sleeping in their own crib or bassinet. If you are going to write in article based on "scientific evidence" list your references!

Ida Boyd January 03, 2014 | 9:27 PM

When I was a child My Parents slept with all their children until they were at least 4 yrs.I remember I loved taking a nap in my parents Bed.Such a feeling of well being.Of course times and cultures have changed.But such good memories I'll take with me for the rest of my life.When my children were Babies I kept their Crib In my Room that didn't interfere with our intimacy.I slept Better the babies slept better.They are all adults now and very productive in all they do..

irrelevant January 02, 2014 | 6:54 AM

i think Jules nailed it. i have a hard time giving any of you who have shot this down with such fire any credit. since when have any two children been parented the same? what works with one more than likely will not work with the other. parents raise their children different all across the world and i dont understand why you would be so quick to dismiss or berate people who do something that they believe works for their child. if it wasnt working, i think they probably wouldnt be doing it. i am not saying its right, or that its wrong, but i am going to say to stop being so ridiculously judgmental, raise your own children however you want, but you probably shouldnt tell other parents what is wrong or right for their children, because you may find out you know less than you thought, and what works for your children, probably isnt going to work for another

yreyesylee@yahoo.com December 18, 2013 | 4:08 PM

Co-sleeping and family bed is common throughout most of the world. The United States is one of the few countries where it's not common, and yet the U.S. has the highest rate of SIDS of all industrialized nations, if not the world. The cases in the U.S. where a baby has died due to injuries sustained while bed-sharing have usually involved urban poverty, a parent who was a smoker, drugs and alcohol, or sleeping on a non-bed surface. In most of those deaths there were at least two factors involved. In Finland (if I remember correctly) it is assumed that children will be co-sleeping and indications on how to do so safely are handed out to parents upon release from the hospital. The only controversy appears to exist in the United States. As for studies to the contrary I haven't seen any definitive research, however family bed is linked to more independent children, yes. In part I think because the countries who support it as part of their culture view children as independent "natural" beings. My husband and I made the decision to bed share from the time our child was a newborn. He has his own separate mattress on our bed (which is quite firm) with his own blanket. Everyone has their space and we sleep well. It was also an incredible advantage when I was breast feeding and when my son was having trouble sleeping because of a growth spurt. Of the children in my new mothers support group, my son was the first child who was able to put himself to sleep without a pacifier, blanket, nursing, or crying- he would play with his hands a little, settle in, turn his head to the side and fall asleep. He also started doing it at nap time well before any child in that group. He was tallest though he maintained a normal weight, so he was proportionally the largest child in his age group.I was the only co-sleeping parent. Because this was a joint decision, my husband is totally on board and supports this decision enthusiastically. As far as intimacy is concerned, there's more than one room in our house ;) Our son is in the process of transitioning out to his own crib, then his own room.

Anonymous October 03, 2013 | 2:23 PM

I have been witnessing the results of co-sleeping for a couple of years with two children, now 8 and 10. I would agree it promotes family closeness, but I completely disagree with the first 3 claims. The children are not independent, do not have great self esteem and are not physically and mentally healthier. In fact, the reverse appears to be true, especially anxiety. To be fair, more so with one child than the other, but they both appear to be considerably less mature than their peers and have not transitioned into being able to sleep through the night on their own... And, after co-sleeping well past infancy (7+ years), the parents are now divorced.

A husband September 18, 2013 | 7:51 PM

You forgot the 7th benefit. It's a great way of getting a divorce. I suppose it would take a man to point that out to you mothers.

Ang July 06, 2013 | 7:19 PM

Our daughter falls asleep in her crib but wakes up each night and comes to bed with my husband and I. At first it was just easier to put her in our bed instead of trying to rock her back to sleep but after all the research on the benefits of co sleeping I would never give it up. We too get better sleep and bonus she "sleeps in" longer! I find it amazing how taboo it is here in America. In so many other countries it isn't even given a thought. I hate the negativity co-sleeping gets and I have been told by close friends I'm "damaging my daughter". However, my daughter is a well adjusted, social and happy 15 month. In the end its a matter of preference but families that co sleep should not be looked down upon. Let's face it people I highly doubt when my daughter is a teenager that she'll be trying to crawl in between mom and dad!

Jen June 25, 2013 | 6:37 PM

I find this article absolutely ridiculous, I work at in an emergency room at one of the world's top Pediatric Hospital and seeing infants come in unresponsive due to co-sleeping and being suffocated on a monthly basis. Once I saw that first baby die on my shift due to co-sleeping I will never ever think twice of doing it when I have a child. I don't believe some parents think of it as something that can happen to them. Watching families go through the horrific event that can so easily be prevented by placing a baby in their crib, even a dresser drawer on the floor, is safer then co-sleeping in the same bed and would never wish it upon anyone

Lorietta May 14, 2013 | 6:41 AM

I was raised in Asia--it is very common to co-sleep with parents there and it is something they still do. My parents did the same and it brought us closer. I am very close to my mother and yet--I am very independent and fearless. I have a 3 year old now and he sleeps in our bed. We would not have it any other way. Intimacy with our spouse is just as important but where there is a will, there is a way. He will grow out of it but until then, he knows that he is loved. He is a very independent boy-does many things on his own and refuses any help.

K MCBride May 06, 2013 | 9:54 AM

My former "co-sleepers" are now 11 and 14 and are truly amazing, well adjusted, independent thinkers who excel in school and their interpersonal friendships. I honestly believe that the only "statistics" anyone should be looking at are your own. It worked for us and we are a close family because of it. My kids are confident and strong and each have a good sense of humor and I know in my heart it's because we had a co sleeping bed. Google Dr. Sears and get his take on it...

Caitilin January 28, 2013 | 3:30 PM

We are all entitled to our opinions and the research is often conflicting on vaccines and on SIDS. Every family makes their own rules. We start our kids off in their own beds and at some stage they join us. We love it. When they were babies they slept in bassinettes beside us. Having spent much time in Asia we knew most people didn't have the luxury of a second bedroom. So is this dilema just for the western world? Make your own decisions and stop judging others.

Taylor Family January 25, 2013 | 9:43 PM

I have to say I completely disagree with this article and have seen actual research that is the complete opposite. This article talks about "research" but doesn't mention the study. I have a 4 year old and she doesn't suck her thumb or have a security blanket to cling to and also doesn't have anxiety issues. She sleeps in her bed every night and the rare occasions when she's had a really bad dream or sick she will sleep with us. Children that wake up during the night and are able to put themselves back to sleep are more confident and have higher self esteem. And as for more "family bonding time", please you need to be making extra time during the day. What about the intimacy between you and your spouse? I guess that's not important either.

Emily January 20, 2013 | 8:32 PM

My son is 4 months old and we do a bit of both. He starts in his crib but later in the night when he wakes up to breastfeed, he comes into bed with us. My husband and I both love it (for now at least). I love it b/c it makes breastfeeding and resting MUCH easier. Side-lying is a wonderful way to nurse. Now if you are REALLY overweight, I wouldn't recommend co-sleeping b/c it becomes more dangerous. At first I would dream I was smothering him and couldn't sleep very deeply, but it feel so natural now. Especially as he's grown bigger, it doesn't feel so dangerous. We are careful with covers and to keep pillows away from him. My husband enjoys the sweet time cuddling with his son, especially since he doesn't get to be with him as much as I do. Once he is able to roll over, I'm not sure how we will deal with co-sleeping. For now, it feels right. And every morning I feel rested.. He wakes up so happy each morning, talking and laughing.. he wakes us both up and together we enjoy the sweet time~!

Gail Reed January 14, 2013 | 12:32 AM

You might want to do some research on SIDs. I found that the Japanese did a study on vaccines since they suspected this was what was causing the babies too loose their breath at night. They were right. They stopped giving the vaccines to babies & cases went down to zero deaths. They started giving vaccines at age 6 instead. The saddest part to me is that these mothers were made to believe that they killed their babies while all along it was these foreign vaccines that were forced onto their babies.

Annie January 05, 2013 | 7:10 AM

As a former CPS case worker, I have witnessed suffocations deaths of babies and really cannot believe the irresponsibility of this article either. Yes, you CAN sleep safely with your baby, but MOST new parents whom I have ever been acquainted with cannot afford the separator to add structure around the infant, and also a lot of parents of new babies are tired think that this won't happen to them. Many years ago, my next door neighbor and friend was a mortician. He would stop by to visit my husband, and if I even dozed on the sofa with our infant, he would get so mad. He said that almost ALL of their infant mortality cases were due to the mother accidently suffocating their babies while sleeping.

Wit January 01, 2013 | 12:05 PM

This author has irresponsibly used the terms co-sleeping and bed-sharing interchangeably.....but they are NOT the same thing. Both have different risks and benefits. Co-sleeping is sleeping with the child in the same room....not the same bed. Having the child in the same room reduces the risk for SIDS. Bed sharing is sleeping with the child in the same bed. Bed-sharing increases the risk for SIDS. Refer to the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Thomas December 26, 2012 | 7:52 PM

Samantha. You say too many have suffocated their children. However, it mentions that SIDS reduces a lot when co-sleeping. SIDS kills so many more every day

Samantha December 25, 2012 | 9:07 AM

There have been FAR too many children suffocated by a parent rolling onto them or pillows/blankets covering their faces for me to EVER think co-sleeping is a good thing. I LOVE cuddling with my daughter & have accidentally fallen asleep with her many times, but never in my bed. She loves to take naps curled up with me on the couch, but I usually stay awake just to be safe. She's 2 now & is far too big for me to roll onto, but she still doesn't sleep in my bed. She loves her crib & usually wakes up laughing & wants to stay in her crib & play for a few minutes. We've had a video monitor on her every night she's ever slept in her own room which helped calm my anxiety a lot when she was a newborn. I only keep it on now because it's easier to be able to see if she's actually awake or just making noise in her sleep. She's a great sleeper & can fall asleep pretty much anywhere. She's still very loving & I still get plenty of cuddle time. In my opinion, co-sleeping is too dangerous. My mom knows a guy who rolled onto his newborn daughter & suffocated her. He later attempted suicide. To me, it's not worth risking my child's life. Nor it is worth losing my adult time with my SO!

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