Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Children aren’t hurt or helped by sharing bed with parents

14.08.2002


Routine parent-child bedsharing before 6 years of age appears to have no major impact on a child’s subsequent development or behavior -- for better or for worse, the first long-term study of the practice reveals.

The researchers’ finding that there is "no evidence linking [early parent-child bedsharing], when engaged in responsibly, with any sort of problematic outcome" should give experts who caution against the practice reason to reconsider their advice, according to lead author Paul Okami, Ph.D., of the University of California, Los Angeles.

Okami notes that a large majority of the world’s children share a room, if not a bed, with their parents. Yet American parents receive conflicting messages about the practice.



"Many - perhaps most - experts do not advocate bedsharing, and the American Academy of Pediatrics cautions against ’routine’ bedsharing," he explains. These detractors voice concerns that the practice may have such negative impacts as causing sleep disorders and interfering with normal psychosexual development.

At the same time, Okami observes, "A number of clinicians and child-rearing experts have advocated purposeful parent-child bedsharing, or ’the family bed’ as it has come to be known." These proponents claim such long-term benefits to the child as an increased capacity for intimacy.

Okami and his colleagues followed a group of 205 California-born children and their parents since the children were born in 1975. Three-quarters of the families led "unconventional" lifestyles, such as single parenthood and collective living, at the study’s beginning; many endorsed "natural" child-rearing practices. For this reason, the larger study - known as the Family Lifestyles Project - provided an unusual opportunity to investigate patterns of bedsharing and their effects.

As described in the August issue of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics, the investigators asked parents to describe their children’s usual sleeping arrangements four times: age 5 months and 3, 4 and 6 years.

At 5 months, 35 percent of the parents reported having their infants in the same room or bed with them at least intermittently, but only 9 percent reported regular bedsharing. The overall rate of regular bedsharing held steady at 6 percent between ages 3 and 5, then fell to 3 percent at age 6.

Bedsharing at some point before age 6 years was most common among those unconventional parents who considered themselves "pronatural" (20 percent) and least common among the conventional parents who were married and living together (2 percent).

Extensive analysis of bedsharing and various developmental and behavioral outcomes, Okami reports, "[did] not support fears that bedsharing would lead to psychosexually troubled relationships later in childhood and adolescence, behavior problems and difficulties in peer and intimate relationships, or early childhood sleep problems."

Children whose parents reported that they were regularly part of a "family bed" at 5 months were no more likely than their non-bedsharing counterparts to experience sleep problems at 2 and 3 years of age.

At age 6, there was no obvious relationship between bedsharing score and behavioral maturity, emotional maturity, mood and affect, or creativity. Nor was there evidence that bedsharing had a negative or positive effect on a child’s sexual fantasies, concerns or preoccupations.

At age 18, the amount of time a child had spent in the "family bed" had no significant impact on his or her ability to relate to parents, adults in general, other family members or peers. Nor was there evidence of a link between bedsharing history and a child’s likelihood of using alcohol, tobacco or hard drugs; having problems with self-acceptance or considering suicide; engaging in vandalism, fights or serious crimes; being sexually active; or having either positive or negative sexual experiences.

If anything, the investigators note, their data indicate small but widespread benefits to children where bedsharing is "part of a wider set of pronatural child-rearing practices and framed by humanistic/egalitarian values," as opposed to a reflection of an underlying pathology such as sexual abuse.


###
Support for the Family Lifestyles study was provided by the Carnegie Corporation, the United States Public Health Service, the W.T. Grant Foundation, and the University of California Los Angeles.

FOR MORE INFORMATION
Health Behavior News Service: (202) 387-2829 or www.hbns.org.
Interviews: Contact Dr. Paul Okami at (213) 387-1125 or birdlivs@attbi.com.
Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics: Contact Mary Sharkey at (212) 595-7717.


Dr. Paul Okami | EurekAlert!

More articles from Social Sciences:

nachricht Sibling differences: Later-borns choose less prestigious programs at university
14.11.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für demografische Forschung

nachricht Visual intelligence is not the same as IQ
09.11.2017 | Vanderbilt University

All articles from Social Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Scientists decipher key principle behind reaction of metalloenzymes

So-called pre-distorted states accelerate photochemical reactions too

What enables electrons to be transferred swiftly, for example during photosynthesis? An interdisciplinary team of researchers has worked out the details of how...

Im Focus: The first precise measurement of a single molecule's effective charge

For the first time, scientists have precisely measured the effective electrical charge of a single molecule in solution. This fundamental insight of an SNSF Professor could also pave the way for future medical diagnostics.

Electrical charge is one of the key properties that allows molecules to interact. Life itself depends on this phenomenon: many biological processes involve...

Im Focus: Paradigm shift in Paris: Encouraging an holistic view of laser machining

At the JEC World Composite Show in Paris in March 2018, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT will be focusing on the latest trends and innovations in laser machining of composites. Among other things, researchers at the booth shared with the Aachen Center for Integrative Lightweight Production (AZL) will demonstrate how lasers can be used for joining, structuring, cutting and drilling composite materials.

No other industry has attracted as much public attention to composite materials as the automotive industry, which along with the aerospace industry is a driver...

Im Focus: Room-temperature multiferroic thin films and their properties

Scientists at Tokyo Institute of Technology (Tokyo Tech) and Tohoku University have developed high-quality GFO epitaxial films and systematically investigated their ferroelectric and ferromagnetic properties. They also demonstrated the room-temperature magnetocapacitance effects of these GFO thin films.

Multiferroic materials show magnetically driven ferroelectricity. They are attracting increasing attention because of their fascinating properties such as...

Im Focus: A thermometer for the oceans

Measurement of noble gases in Antarctic ice cores

The oceans are the largest global heat reservoir. As a result of man-made global warming, the temperature in the global climate system increases; around 90% of...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

10th International Symposium: “Advanced Battery Power – Kraftwerk Batterie” Münster, 10-11 April 2018

08.01.2018 | Event News

See, understand and experience the work of the future

11.12.2017 | Event News

Innovative strategies to tackle parasitic worms

08.12.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Morbid Obesity: Gastric Bypass and Sleeve Gastrectomy Are Comparable

17.01.2018 | Health and Medicine

Researchers identify new way to unmask melanoma cells to the immune system

17.01.2018 | Health and Medicine

Genetic discovery may help better identify children at risk for type 1 diabetes

17.01.2018 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>