Is Sharing a Bed With Your Kid Bad for Their Mental Health?

Sharing a bed can lead to increased anxiety and depression in kids, says a new study.

Sharing a bed with your kid – especially as a baby – is pretty common. But a recent study might cause some moms to question their choices (and cause others to continue just doing their thing). It turns out it could potentially make a child more prone to anxiety and depression.

The study, published in the Journal Of Affective Disorders, looked at 3 583 children in Brazil to see how sharing a bed with their mothers affected them down the line. The researchers looked at four groups of kids: some who didn’t share a bed with their mother (44,4% of participants), some who only did so when they were extremely young (36,2%), some who did so later (12%), and others who were ‘persistent bed-sharers’ (only 7,4% of those studied). The researchers evaluated the children at various intervals between when they were three months old until they were six years old, and when they were six. The children then took the Developmental and Well-Being Assessment, and child psychiatrists analysed the results to see whether the children had internalised disorders (such asanxiety or depression) or externalised issues (such as oppositional defiant disorder, any kind of ADHD, or a conduct disorder).

As a whole, those who shared a bed persistently had a higher rate of mental health issues than those who did not. The conclusion puts it relatively succinctly, saying that ‘early and persistent bed-sharing is associated with an increased occurrence of internalising problems at the age of six years’.

Sharing bed with kid

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Of course, the study does have its drawbacks. The sample size is pretty small when compared to, you know, all the babies out there. And the study did note some of its limitations – like how it doesn’t address why the mom had the baby in her bed in the first place. ‘Some mothers may freely choose to bed-share, while others may do so out of necessity because of household crowding,’ the researchers wrote. And should a family be living in an impoverished situation, that could also have led to anxiety and depression – bed-sharing wouldn’t necessarily be the cause of those children’s emotional and mental-health issues.

The American Academy of Paediatrics recommends that parents share a room with their babies until they’re at least six months old – although ideally until they’re one year old – as a means to protect them from sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). The recommendation specifically advises against sleeping in the same bed as an infant. ‘Parents should never place the baby on a sofa, couch or cushioned chair, either alone or sleeping with another person. We know that these surfaces are extremely hazardous,’ said Rachel Moon, the lead author of a recent study on SIDS, in a statement. (The report doesn’t specify safety precautions for older children.)

But you can almost hear the counter-argument: what loving parent – should she hear her baby crying – wouldn’t want to bring the baby into the bed with her in that scenario?

What do you think? Tweet us at @CosmopolitanSA with your thoughts on sharing a bed with your kid.

This article originally appeared on Redbook.com

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