Despite being aware of the dangers associated with parent-infant bed sharing—suffocation, sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)—some parents still choose to sleep with their child. Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh have attempted to find out why. Through interviews with 28 bed-sharing caregivers, Dr. Jennifer Chianese, lead author of the study, and Dr. Judy Chang, the study’s senior author, believe it breaks down to five motivational themes:
1. Better Sleep- Parents believe bed sharing allows both parent and infant to sleep for longer periods of time.
2. Convenience- By having the infant in bed with them, parents can more easily tend to different needs they may have through the night.
3. Tradition- Dr. Chang says there are cultural and historical references to bed sharing. Some parents also had personal experiences with bed sharing as infants.
4. Child Safety- By having infants by their sides, parents believed they could more closely monitor their children with their breathing patterns.
5. Emotional Needs- Parents often report a strong bonding when sleeping with their baby.
Dr. Chang says she recommends to these parents a compromising alternative: a separate crib in the same room. She says it provides a safer environment for the child while also emitting a better sense of security.