Sleeping like a baby: attitudes and experiences of bedsharing in northeast England

Med Anthropol. 2001;19(3):203-22. doi: 10.1080/01459740.2001.9966176.


This paper reports findings from a study that investigated infant care practices in a small population of Northeast England in order to determine whether parent-infant bedsharing is common parenting behavior. In a year-long prospective study we examined the opinions and practices of parents with regard to their infants' nighttime sleeping strategies before and after the birth of their babies. Results confirm that parents pursue a heterogeneous array of nighttime parenting strategies and that 65 percent of the sample had actually bedshared. Parents with no previous intention to do so slept with their babies for a variety of reasons. One of this study's most important findings is that babies were being brought into bed with both parents. Ninety five percent of the bedsharing infants slept with both mother and father. This study has shown that bedsharing is a relatively common parenting practice. Despite initial worries and fears, mainly concerning overlaying, some parents found bedsharing an effective option yet were covert in their practices, fearing the disapproval of health professionals and relatives.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Anthropology, Cultural
  • Attitude*
  • England
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant Care*
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Parenting*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Sleep*