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New research: Sleeping with toddler in the room is bad for parents

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New research: Sleeping with toddler in the room is bad for parents. (University of Maryland School of Medicine)

BALTIMORE (WBFF) - For parents of toddlers with sleep problems, "co-sleeping" may not be a good strategy, according to new research by the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore.

Co-sleeping is defined as a parent sleeping in the same room or same bed as their child.

Pediatric nurse Lauren Covington explained, "It’s important to note that toddlers, developmentally, at this point they are going to wake up during the night and they are learning to self-soothe and put themselves back to sleep."

The study examined 200 mothers in the Baltimore area and the impact the sleep habits had on their general health.

Dr. Bridget Armstrong said, "What we found was, when moms thought their kid had a problem with sleeping, they were more likely to sleep with their child. That translated to a decrease in sleep. These moms got less sleep when they were in the same room or same bed as their child."

The study was published online in the Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics. It involved 280 low-income mothers and children ages 12 to 32 months living in Baltimore.

The researchers found that mothers who co-slept with toddlers with perceived sleep problems got almost one hour less sleep. In addition, these mothers reported symptoms of stress, depression and anxiety. The mothers of children who didn't have perceived sleep problems did not lose sleep or have depressive symptoms.

"When we don't get enough sleep, we are at increased risk for symptoms of stress, anxiety or depression," said senior author Maureen Black, Ph.D., the John A. Scholl, M.D. and Mary Louise Scholl, M.D. Endowed Professor in Pediatrics at the University of Maryland School of Medicine and director of the Growth and Nutrition Clinic in the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Maryland Children's Hospital.

"Even if these behaviors are normal for children, if the mother thinks there is a problem and sleeps in the same bed or room with her child, then the mother is likely to wake up more at night and get less sleep," she said.