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Keywords:

  • co-sleeping;
  • bedsharing;
  • children's sleep;
  • fathering;
  • parenting;
  • childhood sleep problems

Abstract

This study examined solitary sleeping and co-sleeping arrangements in families with a young child. Data were obtained from questionnaires completed by two independent samples, one of mothers (N=100) and one of fathers (N=38) of preschool-aged children. Types of family sleep arrangements included children who slept in their own room from infancy, children who shared the parental bed from infancy, and children who returned to bedsharing following a period of solitary sleeping. Mothers and fathers described reasons for family sleep arrangements, attitudes towards sleep arrangements, satisfaction with sleep arrangements, and perceptions of children's sleep-related problems. Survey questions also addressed marital relations, parenting, and well-being. Results indicated that mothers and fathers endorsed similar reasons for their families' sleep arrangements, although reasons differed by the type of sleep arrangement. Satisfaction with sleep arrangements was more likely for mothers and fathers whose attitudes coincided with their actual sleep practices. Parents who experienced more problems with their child's sleep behaviours also reported disharmony in marital and parenting domains. Thus, ‘nighttime parenting’ was found to be associated with other important domains of family life for both mothers and fathers. Copyright © 2007 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.