Family bed sharing is where children sleep with parents on the same bed. The normal and more acceptable practice is for children to sleep on their own bed/crib in a separate room. Family bed sharing is not to be confused with co-sleeping where parents and children share a bedroom as opposed to a bed. This topic generates a lot of debate where some people oppose and others support it.
Family Bed Sharing: Statistics
Family bed sharing is common practice is many cultures. It is however looked down upon in North America, Europe and Australia. In India for example, 93% of children between the ages of 3-10 have shared a bed with their parents.
Before the 19th century bed sharing was common in all parts of the world. It was mostly done for the simple reason of keeping the baby warm. As better ways to keep the baby warm were invented, the rates of bed sharing with family have been on the low.
In western cultures, bed sharing with family has been re-introduced recently by attachment parenting enthusiasts. They claim that sharing a bed with your kids strengthens the bond between you. A recent study in Kentucky revealed that 15% of children up to 2 years share a bed with their parents.
Benefits of Family Bed Sharing
Family bed sharing is convenient. Majority of infant and toddler will wake at some point in the night to feed. It is convenient for the parent to tend to the baby with in the bed. This way, you do not need to move away from the bed. Having your baby next to you gives mothers peace of mind which is important for better sleep.
Family bed sharing is natural. Man is classified as a mammal. Mammals in land, air or water share the characteristic of taking care of their offspring. Most mammals will sleep with their young ones next to them. The increase in the rates of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome is often attributed to lack of family bed sharing.
Children who share a bed with their parents are observed to have:
- Stable temperatures.
- Stable and regular heartbeat.
- Fewer breathing pauses.
Family bed sharing also has positive emotional and psychological effects on children. One study revealed that babies who bed-shared had:
- Fewer intimacy and trust issues as adults.
- Higher self-esteem.
- Were happier and less anxious.
- Fewer nightmare
- Rarely woke up at night.
Disadvantages of Family Bed Sharing
Those against family bed sharing say that it put babies in danger of death by suffocation and strangulation. This is because during sleep parents are unconscious and could roll over the child and cause death. The probability of a child dying while sharing a bed reduces with age. Infants are most at risk.
Bed sharing lowers the sense of independence associated with sleeping alone. Since the child will not sleep with parents forever, it is only fair that they start sleeping alone early. Cases of insomnia are high after the child is finally sent away to sleep alone.
Most experts prefer co-sharing rather than bed sharing. Family Bed Sharing is discouraged among parents who:
- Smoke or drink alcohol.
- Have sleeping disorders.
- Have diseases that are infections. Children have a weak immune system and can easily catch it.
- If they are extremely obese.
- Waterbeds are not good for bed-sharing.