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Why do Korean kids sleep with their parents?

The Culture of Co-Sleeping in Korea

Co-sleeping, or sharing a bed with your children, is not uncommon in many cultures around the world. However, it is particularly prevalent in Korea, where it is considered a natural and normal part of family life. In this article, we will explore the reasons why Korean kids sleep with their parents.

Cultural Beliefs and Traditions

One of the primary reasons why Korean kids sleep with their parents is due to cultural beliefs and traditions. Koreans view the family as a single unit, and sleeping together is seen as a way to strengthen familial bonds. Additionally, co-sleeping is believed to promote emotional security and closeness between parents and children.

Practical Considerations

Another factor that contributes to Korean co-sleeping is practicality. Many Korean families live in small apartments or homes with limited bedroom space. Sharing a bed or sleeping on the floor together can help save space and make it easier to care for young children during the night.


Breastfeeding is also a significant reason why Korean kids sleep with their parents. In Korea, breastfeeding rates are high, and co-sleeping can make it easier for mothers to nurse their babies during the night without having to get up and move to another room.

Safety Concerns

Contrary to popular belief, co-sleeping can be safe as long as proper precautions are taken. In Korea, parents often place their babies in the middle of the bed, surrounded by pillows and blankets to prevent accidental suffocation. Additionally, parents are careful not to drink alcohol or take medication that could impair their ability to wake up if necessary.

Mental Health Benefits

Co-sleeping has been shown to have mental health benefits for both parents and children. Sleeping together can reduce stress and anxiety, promote relaxation, and improve sleep quality. Additionally, co-sleeping can help children feel more secure and confident in their attachment to their parents.

Criticism of Co-Sleeping

Despite the many benefits of co-sleeping, there are some who criticize the practice. Some argue that co-sleeping can lead to over-dependence, separation anxiety, or even Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). However, research has shown that these risks are minimal as long as proper safety precautions are taken.

Transitioning to Independent Sleeping

Eventually, most Korean children transition to independent sleeping. This typically occurs around age 3-4 when children begin attending preschool. Parents may encourage independent sleeping by gradually moving the child’s bed into their own room or using a baby monitor to stay connected during the night.

The Importance of Parental Presence

Parents who co-sleep with their children tend to be more attentive and responsive to their needs. This presence can help children develop a strong sense of security and attachment that can benefit them throughout their lives.

Alternative Sleeping Arrangements

While co-sleeping is popular in Korea, it is not the only option for families. Some Korean parents choose to use cribs or bassinets in their bedroom or encourage independent sleeping from a young age. Ultimately, the best choice depends on individual family preferences and circumstances.


In conclusion, there are many reasons why Korean kids sleep with their parents. Cultural beliefs and traditions, practical considerations, breastfeeding, safety concerns, and mental health benefits all play a role in the practice. While there may be some criticism of co-sleeping, research has shown that it can be safe and beneficial as long as proper precautions are taken.

Further Reading

If you’re interested in learning more about co-sleeping in Korea, we recommend checking out these resources:

  • Co-Sleeping and Its Cultural Context in Korea
  • Co-Sleeping: The Korean Way
  • Why Korean Kids Sleep in Their Parents’ Bed

Do Korean children sleep with their parents?

According to Harkness, in Korea, it is common for parents to sleep with their babies to help them fall asleep, while in the Netherlands, parents typically leave their babies in their own rooms to learn how to fall asleep on their own. This was reported on January 5, 2018.

Why do Koreans stay with their parents?

For some grown-up children, the living arrangement with their elderly parents enables them to provide better care while also saving for their own future. However, some individuals, particularly single women, choose to remain with their parents due to their conservative beliefs. This was reported on May 30, 2021.

What cultures do children sleep with parents?

Bedsharing is a common practice in many Asian cultures, including infancy and even as children grow older. Japan is a well-known example, where traditional homes often have a single room for the whole family to sleep in until children move out of the family home.

Why do Korean couples have separate beds?

In Korea, some couples facing conflict choose to live in the same home but sleep in separate rooms for a period of time to work through their issues, which is different from how conflict in marriages is typically handled in other countries where separation or divorce is common.

What age is considered a child in Korea?

The phrase “children and/or juveniles” refers to individuals who are under 19 years old, except for those who have already reached their 19th birthday as of January 1st of that year. This definition is outlined in the Civil Act, which was amended by Act No. 8720 in December.

Why do Koreans prefer daughters?

According to Cho, the improved socio-economic status of women in Korea today is a reason why daughters are being preferred over sons, which is a change from the historically subordinated status of women in Korea. This was reported on August 2, 2022.

Co-Sleeping Around the World

While co-sleeping may be more prevalent in some cultures than others, it is practiced all around the world. In many traditional societies, co-sleeping is the norm and has been for centuries. In Western cultures, co-sleeping has become more popular in recent years as parents seek to create stronger bonds with their children and promote better sleep habits.

Co-Sleeping and Attachment Theory

Attachment theory suggests that early experiences with primary caregivers shape our ability to form relationships throughout our lives. Co-sleeping can help infants and young children develop secure attachment styles, which can lead to better social and emotional outcomes later in life. However, it’s important to note that attachment is a complex process that is influenced by many factors beyond co-sleeping.

Co-Sleeping and Sleep Training

Sleep training, or teaching babies to sleep independently, has become a popular approach in many Western countries. However, co-sleeping advocates argue that sleep training can be harmful to babies’ emotional development and may even lead to long-term sleep problems. Some experts suggest that a more gradual approach to independent sleeping, such as room-sharing or gradually moving the baby’s bed into their own room, may be a better option for some families.

Co-Sleeping and Cultural Stereotypes

Despite the prevalence of co-sleeping in many cultures, it is often stigmatized in Western societies. Co-sleeping parents may be criticized for being overprotective or coddling their children. Additionally, there are cultural stereotypes about certain groups of people practicing co-sleeping more frequently than others. It’s important to remember that co-sleeping is a personal choice for families and should not be judged based on cultural or societal biases.

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