Understanding motivations and satisfaction with sleep location among co-sleeping (including bed-sharing) parents

Levita D'Souza, Zoe Anna Morris, Ashlee Borgkvist, Sarah Lee Blunden

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

Abstract

Objective: The study objective was to understand intentions, sleep location preferences, and satisfaction with co-sleeping (including bed-sharing) arrangements in an internet-based sample of self-identified co-sleeping parents. Background: Western-centric ideologies favor independent, self-regulated, and consolidated sleep. Safe-sleep recommendations advise against all forms of parent–child bed-sharing while promoting room-sharing. Co-sleeping including bed-sharing and room-sharing is widely practiced globally and rates continue to increase in Western countries. Yet perspectives of co-sleeping parents remain under-researched. Method: A cross-sectional study design was used to understand co-sleeping parents' (n = 3,146) intentions, preferences, and satisfaction with co-sleeping (room-sharing and bed-sharing) choices through a survey. Results: Co-sleeping practices were nuanced and varied with parents and children transitioning between sleep location and surfaces through the night. Although 64% of parents did not intend to co-sleep before the birth of their child, 88% preferred the current co-sleeping location, and 81% indicated satisfaction with it. Parental intention to co-sleep (including bed-share) was related to satisfaction with the arrangement. Parents who did not prefer any co-sleeping arrangement at the current time were likely to be parenting older children. A thematic analysis yielded themes relating to the motivations underlying intent and preference, as well as reluctance and dissatisfaction with co-sleeping arrangements. Conclusion: Co-sleeping including bed-sharing continues to be practiced by parents in Western countries. Despite a lack of intent to engage with co-sleeping including bed-sharing, the majority of the parents in this sample were bed-sharing with their infants and young children. Parents choose to room-share and bed-share for a range of reasons. Implications: Parents voices highlight the need for safe co-sleeping including bed-sharing education. Considerations must be given to parents' perspectives in implementing nighttime infant care practices, including facilitating collaborative discussions with parents to assess and minimize potential risks associated with bed-sharing.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages22
JournalFamily Relations
DOIs
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2023

Keywords

  • motivations
  • nighttime care
  • parental preferences
  • safe co-sleeping

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