Alicia Silverstone was criticized for sharing a bed with her 11-year-old son. A pediatrician and a child psychologist say co-sleeping is OK until a child reaches prepuberty.

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  • Alicia Silverstone recently shared in a podcast that she and her 11-year-old son share a bed.

  • A pediatrician said co-sleeping should not happen before 12 months and should stop at prepuberty.

  • Co-sleeping can disrupt sleep for both children and parents.

The actress Alicia Silverstone is known for her unconventional parenting style, but after sharing that she still sleeps with her 11-year-old son, Bear, on "The Ellen Fisher Podcast" this week, she received some harsh feedback. "That may be taking the whole co-sleeping thing a bit too far," one critic tweeted. Another chimed in: "How will he learn to be independent? She's not helping him."

But not everyone thought Silverstone's co-sleeping arrangement was concerning. One person applauded her choice, tweeting, "There's a lot of dysfunctional people walking around society right now ... maybe a little more love from parents might be the answer."

So is it appropriate for parents to share a bed with their child, and up to what age? Here's what a pediatrician and a child psychologist had to say.

Do what works for you and your family

"I have always told parents that sharing a bed with your child is a personal decision, not a medical decision," Dr. Rebecca Fisk, a pediatrician at Lenox Hill Hospital at Northwell Health in New York, told Insider. That being said, Fisk said that parents should never share a bed with a child under the age of 12 months because of an increased risk of death from SIDS and suffocation.

"We all come from different backgrounds and the rules, or parenting guidelines, vary greatly — it's what works for you and your family," said Elizabeth Matheis, a licensed clinical psychologist at Psychological and Educational Consulting, LLC, in Livingston, New Jersey. What's more, sharing a bed with your child can be comforting, especially during times of family transition, such as a divorce, Matheis said.

You can have a cohesive relationship with your child but have boundaries

Emotionally, it is comforting to be near someone who you feel safe with, said Matheis.

But because of varying sleep needs, co-sleeping can cause disruptive sleep for both the parent and the child, said Fisk. So if you are sharing a bed, make sure your child is functioning well during the day — if they're not well-rested, other options will provide them with that same sense of security, she said.

Parents can put a mattress on the floor of their room for a child to lay on until they get sleepy, then walk them to their own room, or sit at the edge of their bed until they fall asleep. That way, you're fostering your child's independence while being supportive. "You can have a cohesive relationship with your child but have boundaries," Fisk said.

Prepuberty is when co-sleeping should stop

Co-sleeping should stop when you start to see your child's body begin to transition in puberty, said Fisk. Prepubescence is the stage when sexual characteristics start to develop, like budding breasts and the growth of armpit hair.

"I wouldn't want a 14-year-old child sleeping in the bed with his or her mother or father. If you asked me to draw a line, I think it's at the prepubertal time," Fisk said.

Matheis agrees. "Adolescence, or the onset of puberty, may be a good time to transition to different beds," she said.

When a child reaches adolescence, they'll probably seek their own space anyway, naturally transitioning away from sharing a bed with a parent. But if your child is highly anxious and finds comfort in being near you, it's OK to set up a mattress in the same room, Matheis said.

Read the original article on Insider