New Research on Baby Sleep

New Research on Baby SleepNew research on baby sleep indicates the ideal age to move a baby to her own room is 4 months. This proves to give babies the most amount of sleep, including the most continual sleep, while also reducing risk factors for SIDS.

Baby sleeping habits is one of the most important aspects of caring for an infant, and it is often a struggle for many new parents. Developing good sleeping habits in infancy supports better brain development and physical strength, and helps babies learn to self-soothe and sleep independently.

In keeping these goals in mind, parents must also weight the risk factors for Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), which affects around 3,700 babies every year. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends rooming in without co-sleeping in the same bed so parents are more in-tune with their baby’s breathing during sleep hours. Plus, this makes nighttime breastfeeding easier so everyone can get more rest.

However, rooming-in can lead to unsafe sleep habits when parents allow their babies to co-sleep in an unsafe baby sleep environment. Babies can easily suffocate from sheets, pillows, blankets and even stuffed animals during sleep. That’s why an independent sleep space free of any extra items other than a fitted bottom sheet is recommended. And regardless of where a baby is sleeping, she should always be placed on her back.

The new study published in the journal Pediatrics looks at baby sleep from a different angle: quality and quantity. Newborns need the comfort of their parents close-by but older babies may be more distracted by their parents’ presence, especially as separation anxiety develops around 9 months.

The research reviewed baby sleep habits from 230 families. It indicates that babies who slept with their parents longer than 4 months got less overall sleep, slept for shorter periods at a time, and the risk of SIDS – as related to unsafe sleep habits – was higher.

Room separation at 4 months is contradictory to the AAP’s recommendation of room-sharing for 6 to 12 months to reduce the risk of SIDS. Understandably this new research on baby sleep can lead to some confusion for new parents. Ultimately, parents should evaluate their own situation, consider all safety concerns and make a choice that is best for the wellbeing of the family.

Sources: CBS News, Self Magazine and NPR