Some researchers decry the practice of permitting babies and young children to sleep in the same bed as their parents do, warning of its potential to smother youngsters, both physically and emotionally. Others regard this arrangement, known as co-sleeping, as a way to build strong families and emotionally secure children.
New data suggest that this debate is too simplistic. Two contrasting types of co-sleeping exist in the United States, say Meret A. Keller and Wendy A. Goldberg, both of the University of California, Irvine.
If co-sleeping begins after an infant reaches age 1 and in response to the child's bedtime struggles, sleep is often disrupted for everyone in the bed and family tensions are increased, the psychologists hold. However, co-sleeping generally proceeds smoothly when it begins within the first few months of an infant's birth and continues into toddlerhood, Keller and Goldberg report in the December 2004 Infant and Child Development.