You don’t have to share a bed to boost bond with your baby, study says

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Whether a mother should cosleep with her baby is debated. But a new study shows no positive or negative effects are associated with it.

Findings from England’s University of Kent show infant attachment and maternal bonding isn’t swayed by mother and baby sharing a bed.

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“A lot of people think that bed-sharing is necessary to promote secure attachment with infants,” study lead Ayten Bilgin, Ph.D., Kent lecturer in psychology, said in a press release. “However, there is little research in this area and quite mixed evidence. More insight into the outcomes of bed-sharing is required to better inform parents, guardians and practitioners.”

Researchers published the study results in the Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics.

They evaluated data from 178 infants and their parents, at term, 3, 6 and 18 months. Researchers didn’t find connections between co-sleeping in the first six months. No link was found between infant-mother attachment and infant attention levels, hyperactivity and task persistence at eighteen months. Co-sleeping in the first six months wasn’t linked to maternal bonding and sensitivity in infant interaction at ensuing assessment points.

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“Around a third of all parents share their bed with their infant during the first 18 months of life occasionally to most nights in this UK study. We found the practice was associated with ease of breastfeeding and dealing with night-waking of the baby,” Dieter Wolke, co-study lead and professor of Developmental Psychology and Individual Differences at the University of Warwick said.

More research may be needed to determine how co-sleeping may affect child development.

According to Parents magazine, there are benefits and drawbacks of co-sleeping. Benefits may include being nearby to respond to babies and ease of nursing through the night. Supporters of co-sleeping also say breastfeeding mothers get more sleep and it helps children feel safe. Drawbacks can include anxious behaviors in children, parent sleep quality suffering and an increased risk of suffocation and sudden infant death syndrome.

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