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Durham University

Department of Anthropology


Publication details for Prof Helen L. Ball

Sullivan, S.S. & Ball H.L. (2017). Early Childhood Pediatric Sleep Concerns for Parents: Co-sleeping. In Reference Module in Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Psychology. Stein, John Elsevier.

Author(s) from Durham


Of all the sleep-related challenges in infancy and early childhood, none has generated the attention and controversy of co-sleeping. Rates of co-sleeping vary across countries and cultures. While in some studies co-sleeping has been associated with poorer child sleep (measured by overall sleep time, night waking frequency, etc.) recent data have highlighted a more complex and nuanced relationship between co-sleeping, infant/child sleep, parental sleep, and other outcomes dependent on social ecology and infant/child age. Parent-infant co-sleeping has been studied in detail regarding associations with sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)/infant mortality risk, breastfeeding facilitation, and developmental psychology. The most recent American Academy of Pediatrics Task Force on Infant Positioning and SIDS recommends against co-sleeping in the form of bed sharing, while the UK National Institute for Health & Care Excellence finds insufficient evidence of a causal relationship between SIDS and co-sleeping, and cautions against co-sleeping only in the context of parental smoking, drug and alcohol use, and infant prematurity/low birthweight. Some studies have identified sofa-sharing for sleep as particularly hazardous. Evidence indicates that while co-sleeping is less prevalent in the United States than in Asian or some European countries, it is prevalent among minority groups and breastfeeding mothers.