A majority of parents have no shame in co-sleeping with their little ones – in fact, seven in 10 believe the act should be normalized rather than stigmatized (71%), our online study suggests.

Our study of 2,000 parents of kids ages 1 through 10 revealed that 78% are aware of the pros and cons of co-sleeping with their children – whether in the same room or bed.

Eighty-eight percent prefer co-sleeping with their kids because they said it makes them feel closer to them.

Other reasons parents cited for why they co-sleep are that their families get more sleep (62%), they want to make their kids feel safe and secure (62%) and bonding (52%).

Half of all parents (51%) also see it as a benefit to making breastfeeding easier, to which 53% of mothers agree. 

Dr. James McKenna, emeritus director of the Mother-Baby Behavioral Sleep Laboratory at the University of Notre Dame, notes the safest way to co-sleep with children is by breastfeeding or “breastsleeping” – a term he coined in his research, revealing the physiological and behavioral advantages for both mother and infant. 

“Most mothers, in today’s age, don’t think they’re going to bedshare at all, but, of course, all human infants are ‘contact seekers’ as their survival depends on contact, so they navigate closer and closer to their mothers, teaching them that bedsharing meets her needs,” McKenna said. “(Mom) gets more sleep, as the infant is happier and more settled, which means the baby doesn’t cry.” 

McKenna also cited that “breastsleeping” prompts more infant arousals when sleeping, which could help reduce the risk of SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome). 

“This could be especially important in light of the new Australian study that found a particular biomarker that could potentially signal a distinct infant vulnerability to SIDS,” he said. 

In our online study, the parents who co-sleep shared how they do so with their kids: a quarter said their children currently snooze in their room but in separate beds (25%), and a similar percentage currently sleep in the same bed as their kids.

Despite the many advantages co-sleeping provides, most parents said they’ve experienced one of the downsides.

  • Eight in 10 parents admit that co-sleeping with their children and partners has strained their relationships (82%). 
  • Men were slightly more likely to feel their relationships were at risk than women due to co-sleeping (83% vs. 81%).
  • Only 6% of all parents said co-sleeping as a family hasn’t affected their relationships at all. In fact, three in four would rather sleep with their children than their significant others (75%).

While 51% reported they co-slept with their parents as young children, 76% believe kids today should eventually learn how to fall asleep independently.

Forty-three percent have successfully sleep-trained their kids, and 23% don’t plan to do so at all. A fifth of parents admitted they tried sleep training their children but failed. 

Whether they were successful or not, 46% said they tried the Ferber method of letting a child cry for a certain amount of time before comforting them.

A quarter let their kids “cry it out,” which involves letting a child cry themselves to sleep (24%). 

Seventeen percent did the camping out method (patting or stroking a child off to sleep and then gradually moving away), and only 8% tried the fading method (putting to bed a drowsy child and then gradually moving away). 

This online study was conducted by OnePoll from February 21st through February 22nd 2022, with a sample of 2,000 American parents with children ages 1 to 10.