We’ve all heard of the parents who shared their room with their newborn for six months to a year (or more!). That’s months and months of no TV, whispering, tip-toeing and dim lights way before you and/or your significant other might be ready to go to sleep. Not to mention that many of us have tiny “master” bedrooms meaning the baby basically takes over the whole room.
But according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the best place for a baby to sleep is in the parents’ bedroom. A baby should sleep in their own crib or bassinet (or in a co-sleeper safely attached to the bed), but shouldn’t be in their own room until they are at least 6 months, better 12 months, according to the AAP. They say this is to prevent SIDS. Some have speculated that when babies sleep in the same room as their parents, the background sounds or stirrings prevent very deep sleep and that helps keeps the babies safe. Room sharing also makes breast-feeding easier, which is protective against SIDS.
Not everyone finds room sharing inconvenient. For some parents it helps ease anxiety to have their little one in the same room, while others find it more practical for those middle-of-the-night cries and feeds, especially breastfeeding moms. Many also see it as a way to better bond. That’s all well and good – parents should do what works best for them and their child. It’s important, however, to be informed and the latest research actually shows that there is no benefit to the room sharing recommendation after the first few months.
Emily Oster, the author of the cult-read, best-selling Cribsheet and Expecting Better found in her research that after three or four months, the risk of SIDS is extremely low and that babies who learn to sleep in a room on their own at four months sleep better at four months, nine months and at two and a half than those that sleep in the same room as their parents.
Bottom line: share a room if you feel it’s right for your family, but if you’re struggling, don’t feel guilty about it!