[Considering most families in the 19th century slept in one bed (ref) it is highly suspicious that the belief about its 'dangers' became the popular belief. See: The Family Bed.]

Children 'should sleep with parents until five'

Daily Mail May 15, 2006

CHILDREN Should Be allowed to sleep In the same bed as their parents until they are five, according to a leading child expert.

Professor Margot Sunderland said those who share their parents' bed are more likely to grow up to become calm, healthy adults.

The advice files in the face of the perceived wisdom that the practice creates behavioural problems in later life.

It also goes against current advice to parents not to sleep with their babies for fear of sudden infant death syndrome.

Professor Sunderland, director of education at the Centre for Child Mental Health in London, said her view was based on 800 scientific studies.

She is so confident of the evidence she believes health visitors should be given fact sheets to help educate parents about the benefits of so-called 'co-sleeping'.

'These studies should be widely disseminated to parents,' she said. 'There is a taboo fn this country about children sleeping with their parents. What I have done Is present the science.' Professor Sunderland said the common practice of training babies to sleep alone was harmful as separation from the parents increased the production of stress hormones in the child.

In her book, The Science of Parenting, she cites research which found a child separated from a parent experienced similar brain activity to one in physical pain.

'Studies from around the world show that co-sleeping until the age of five is an investment for the child,' she satd.

'They can have separation anxiety up to the age of five and beyond which can affect them in later life.

'This is calmed by co-sleeping.'

Professor Sunderland, the author of 20 parenting books, has previously warned that letting children cry can also create problems such as depression later in life.

In one study, she said 70 per cent of women who had not been comforted when they cried as babies developed digestive problems as adults.