Doctors, Make Up Your Mind if Babies Need Their Own Room or Not!
Last month, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) put all parents in a panic and warned us that we had better be sharing a room with our babies. All the way up until age one. According to the official recommendations, the AAP said that room-sharing with a baby would help the babies sleep better and reduce the risk of SIDS. Both of which are obviously very good things! Some parents breathed a sigh of relief that they were “normal,” since they were already sharing a room with their babies anyway. (But not bed-sharing!) Yay for medical back-up! Other parents scratched their heads and wondered what the heck they should do. If they had already moved their baby into their own room, did that mean the baby needed to go back to room-sharing? Would they be messing up their sleep schedules? What should they do?
And now, just when we were feeling like we had the hang of things, the AAP is going and changing their recommendations yet again. This time, they are saying, “Hold up, folks, we were just kidding. Babies actually sleep way better on their own after all!”
The new recommendations are coming off the heels of a new study that found that babies actually get less sleep and are more at risk for unsafe sleep habits at the hands of their sleep-deprived parents if they're still sharing a room after four months old. According to data analysis, it looks like babies sleep in shorter intervals and get less overall sleep when they're in with mom and dad after around four months old.
The data is super interesting to me because it's exactly what my husband and I have always done — we shared a room with our baby, the baby sleeping in a playpen. Until the baby hit around 12 weeks old, which is when we found that they tended to naturally sleep longer increments on their own. Putting them to bed in their own room felt like we could relax a little. We didn't hear every single sound and they learned to self-soothe a little more.
The AAP's findings seem to back that theory up. They also note that sleep safety is important to consider because if your baby is tending to wake up a lot and they are still in your room, you're more likely just to plop the baby in with you and call it a night. Because hello? You're exhausted. It actually makes a lot of sense.
This can all be a little frustrating. It may make you think that it's high time that the AAP just made up their minds already. But it's actually a very good thing that we're talking about baby sleep, what families actually do, and how to make sure that parents are getting the sleep they need while ensuring baby's safety. The research seems to point to what most of us already know. That is, that all families are different and all babies are different. Some babies may sleep better on their own, in their own room. Others may want to hang out with a caregiver for longer. As long as you're practicing safe sleep habits, do what works best for your family.
Are you team same room or own room?