Child Behavior: An Expert's View on Cosleeping

By Paul Schwartz, Ph.D.

When we asked Dr. Paul Schwartz, professor at Mount Saint Mary College in Newburgh, what he thought about cosleeping - when parents allow their children to sleep in their bed - he had some interesting comments. Here's what he had to say:

* 20th century child rearing experts advocate the nighttime separation of baby and parents early in the child's development. Dr. Spock recommends moving baby out of parent's room early in the first year of life "otherwise they may become dependent on the arrangement."

* Co-sleeping is common around the globe and in rural parts of the U.S. In Japan, children sleep with parents until early childhood, then in the same room until adolescence

READ MORE: The sleep wars: to cosleep or not to cosleep

* Among the cultures that advocate cosleeping, the belief is that cosleeping provides an intimate bond between parent and child. In these cultures children will often fall asleep in the midst of social activities and are then carried to bed.

* Bedtime struggles in the U.S. may be related to the stress youngsters in American homes experience when they are required to go to sleep alone - usually requiring elaborate rituals taking most of the evening. American parents are interested in developing early independence and protecting their own privacy.

* The issue is cultural - most middle class American parents see their infants as dependent beings who must be urged to independence. Other cultures, as well as people in the U.S., see infants as separate little beings that need to develop an independent relationship with the greater community to survive.

READ MORE: Sleep training 101

* Kids in cultures that advocate cosleeping have fewer incidences of sleep problems (getting to sleep or staying asleep) or anxiety about bedtime.

Other articles by Paul Schwartz