I'm making an assumption that there has to be an age at which bed-sharing no longer provides a benefit to either party and in fact is harmful to at least one of them. Are there any studies that prove this point? If so, is it possible these studies are simply biased by cultural norms and don't show actual harm to parent or child?

Hopefully the study would answer these questions:

  1. When should parents stop sleeping in the same bed as their child?

  2. What kind of issues can this cause for both the child and the parent if the bed-sharing continues beyond what is recommended?

  3. Does the answer vary depending on whether we are talking about a single parent vs. a couple?

  • 8
    Cultural norms are important to take into consideration, as you and your children don't exist outside of them; that doesn't mean you need to be a slave to them, though. It just means it's something to think about. The literature on co-sleeping is easily accessible. Googling "effects of long term co-sleeping on parents and children" gave me a first page with some good and some mediocre information. Nov 13, 2014 at 22:35
  • 2
    For 3) If a parent doesn't want the child in bed with them, it's "harmful", at least to the sleep of that parent. So, having 2 parents increases the chances that one of them doesn't want the child to cosleep anymore. This happened sooner for me than it did my wife. Once my son started moving more/getting bigger, I couldn't sleep comfortably.
    – user11394
    Nov 14, 2014 at 2:16
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    Latent - please have a look at parenting.stackexchange.com/q/197/316 and the other Related questions from the sidebar to the right
    – Rory Alsop
    Nov 14, 2014 at 10:46
  • 1
    Co-sleeping is pretty harmful to sleep hygiene and that detriment starts early - about six months old. There's a bunch of risk associated with co-sleeping so it's hard to say when co-sleeping is not detrimental to the child.
    – DanBeale
    Nov 14, 2014 at 22:03
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    Clearly, there aren't huge benefits or huge harms, and that's the answer to the question. "It doesn't seem to matter, at least not enough to be obvious in the studies done" is an answer. Learn to live with ambiguity. Science is full of it.
    – Marc
    Nov 26, 2014 at 1:15

1 Answer 1


I don't think there is a definitive answer for this question. The behavioral and development specialists at the children's hospital where my sons PCP is all agree that co-sleeping is bad and should only be allowed as an exception to comfort a child on stormy nights or after other upsetting events. Their arguments are that it prevents children from developing confidence and independence that becomes crucial in early education, and the development of trust that even though they can't see mommy/daddy they are still there.

Still other professionals make the exact opposite arguments that the more nurturing co-sleeping reduces separation based stress which in turn promotes stronger development of emotional stability and key skills.

I found a study from 2007 that states there is some accuracy to both sides. I would read a few articles from both sides then play it by ear with consideration of your child's specific behaviors.

LiveStrong - good effects
PsychologyToday - bad effects
University of California - Full Study


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