There's a New Best Age to Move Babies Into Their Own Rooms
by Lisa René LeClair
Photograph by Getty Images
newborn home for the first time can be terrifying. They are
itty-bitty, delicate creations that may or may not remember how to breathe in
the middle of the night, which is why so many parents
sleep with a crib right next to their bed.
But that arrangement can't—and for the sake of quality sleep for everyone—shouldn't last forever.
But when is it
time to move babies into their own rooms?
2015, the Centers for
Disease Control and Prevention estimated that of the 3,700 infant deaths in the United
States, 1,600 were caused by sudden infant death syndrome. Those are
frightening statistics and, because of it, the
American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that
parents' share a room (but not a bed) with infants for the first 6 months to 1 year. This, the doctors believe, reduces the risk of SIDS.
Except here's the
problem: The AAP guidelines keep changing, and there seems to be a gray area in the
timeline for when it comes to serving that final eviction notice to those sweet, non-paying, renters. Or, at least, there had been a gray area.
According to reports,
Ian Paul, lead author of a new study published recently in Pediatrics that 4 months is the sweet spot.
He and his team
analyzed data from 230 participating families where half of the moms were
encouraged to consider moving the crib when their baby turned 3 months old, and the other
half received intensive advice on reducing SIDS risk from nurses who visited
the home and provided specific feedback on improving the safety of the sleep
discovered was that more than half the infants were sleeping in their own room
by 4 months old, and just over a quarter were sleeping independently between 4
and 9 months.
infants who slept in their own rooms after 4 months slept longer. For example,
9-month-old infants who shared a room slept an average of 9.75 hours per
night, while those who began sleeping alone at 4 months slept 10.5 hours.
That's a big win
for moms and dads and just about everyone.
"One of the
reasons we wanted to explore this is that the evidence is really weak for 6 to
12 months," Paul said about the AAP's guidelines. "I think in [the Academy's] strong desire to
prevent every single case of SIDS, they have looked at the data with a biased
that continuing to encourage parents to keep children in their room until 1 year
old may be counterproductive, because that is the same age when separation anxiety
so many other factors in child and parent health that are consequences of this
decision. That's the worst time to make a change from a
developmental perspective," he said.
like Jodi Mindell, associate director of the Sleep Center at Children's
Hospital of Philadelphia, could not agree more.
babies and parents to get a good night's sleep because we know that will affect
infant safety, infant development and family well-being," she said.
"It's a balance of trying to make sure babies are safe, everyone's getting
enough sleep and everyone's developing appropriately."
In the end, it
is up to parents to decide what is best for their kids, and everyone else can run their own child-rearing enterprises.