Skip Ribbon Commands
Skip to main content
Skip Navigation LinksBoys Town Pediatrics > Knowledge Center > Health Articles > Bed Sharing

Bed Sharing

By Michael Dawson, M.D.

Bed Sharing image

​​​While bed-sharing or co-sleeping is prevalent in some countries and cultures, bed-sharing remains relatively uncommon in the United States. Boys Town Pediatrics along with the American Academy of Pediatrics do not recommend bed-sharing due to safety risks associated with Sudden Infant Death Syndrome​ (SIDS) and sleep-related infant mortality.

During the first year of life, it can be harmful to sleep with your baby because bed-sharing can result in suffocation due to loose blankets, a soft mattress, rolling over your baby, and other factors. It is recommended that infants sleep on their backs, in their own cribs with firm mattresses, and without loose blankets or soft toys.

Infant Bed-Sharing Prevention Tips

  • Don’t make a habit of rocking your infant fully to sleep in your arms. Place your baby in the crib while he/she is drowsy but not yet asleep. This will teach a baby to fall asleep on his own.
  • When an infant wakes up hungry at night, make the feeding interaction brief and boring so your baby doesn’t get into the habit of wanting to see you at nighttime.
  • By 3 or 4 months of age, most infants’ cribs can be moved to their own rooms. If you are still sleeping in the same room as your infant, do not interact with your infant often because this will encourage the assumption of playtime.

When It Comes to Toddlers

Bed-sharing with a toddler sometimes becomes a comforting or nurturing act for parents, however, many discover it can cause sleeping habits that are difficult to break. Bed-sharing with your toddler is not recommended because it hinders healthy sleep patterns. Studies have shown more than half of children who sleep with parents resist going to bed, awaken multiple times and are restless sleepers, resulting in both parties not getting adequate sleep.

Toddler Bed-Sharing Prevention Tips

  • The best way to break the habit is to establish a good sleep routine. Try to keep the same pattern every night, start with a bath, brush their teeth and maybe read a book or sing a song. Set firm limits to help maintain a routine.
  • Explain to your child that he is too old to sleep in your bed. Try rewarding your toddler the first time for being a "good sleeper". Remember, attention is more important than material rewards.
  • If your child leaves the room, take him back to the bed right away. If he continues, try closing the door until he has returned to bed. If your child gets into your bed during the night, take him back immediately with a firm attitude.
  • If you are a deep sleeper, consider using some kind of signaling device that will awaken you if your child enters your bedroom such as a bell attached to your doorknob. Remind your child that it is not polite to wake people who are sleeping unless it is an emergency.
  • After age 2, the primary reason for a toddler to leave the bedroom at night should only be to go to the bathroom.

Breaking the bed-sharing habit can be emotional for you and your toddler. Keep in mind that if you do not give in, eventually your toddler will learn to go to sleep on his own and everyone will finally get some much needed sleep!