A study conducted by the American Academy of Pediatrics suggested that babies sleep much longer when they have their separate room.
Pediatrician Dr. Ian Paul analyzed surveys from 230 first time mothers, and determined that babies slept for a longer period of time if they were not in the same bedroom as their parents. According to the study, 4 month old babies who were in a separate bedroom slept uninterrupted for longer - by 45 minutes on average - though overall they slept the same amount of time as babies sharing bedroom with parents. On the other hand, babies of 9 month slept 40 minutes longer at night and 20 minutes longer overall, when in their own rooms compared to babies who slept in their parents room.
The differences recorded disappeared at 12 months but reappeared later on when the researches followed up toddlers at 2 1/2 years. The follow up suggested that toddlers who started sleeping by alone from 9 months onward, slept 45 minutes longer each night even though the total sleep time was almost the same.
These findings come in line with a recent guidance released by the pediatrics group, advising parents to share their room (but not a bed) with their infants up to at least six months and until they are one year of age. The guidelines were recommended in order to assist in lowering the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), which can occur while infant is sleeping.
Though it is recommended to share rooms with infants for 3 to 6 months, the datas do not supporting continuting the practice beyond that age said Dr. Paul. According to research, nine out of 10 SIDS deaths happen before infants reach six months, while the majority of it happens between one and four months.
In addition to that, further research indicates that poorly sleeping babies have a huge impact on the mental health of parents. Moreover it is also linked to other problems for the infant such as childhood obesity of behavioral issues. Dr. Paul stated that certain experts believe that having a separate room for the infant could help that sleep better before they develop separation anxiety.
"Most parents don't want their baby sleeping in their room until 1 year," Paul said. "I've got three of them myself." For him, a year of room-sharing seems to be excessive.
The American Academy of Pediatrics highlighted that infants of 4 to 12 months must get 12 to 16 hours of sleep per day, including naps, while newborns could sleep much longer. Moreover, the research showed beyond the difference of babies who shared rooms and slept in separate ones: babies that did not share a room with parents were more likely to have a consistent bedtime routine, and had greater chance of going to bed by 8 p.m.
According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 3,700 died from sudden or unexpected causes, which accounts for approximately 92 deaths per 100,000 live births. Babies who shared a room were more likely to eventually be bought to the parents bed over night, and also had greater chance of sleeping with pillows, stuffed animals, and blankets. Both of which are connected to SIDS, including by suffocation. Other risks include loos bedding, sleeping face-down, and living with a smoker.
SIDS Researched ; Dr. Rachel Moon, a professor of pediatrics at the University of Virginia who co-authored the American Academy of Pediatrics' latest recommendation, stated that uninterrupted sleep does not always mean it is better - in response to the study conducted by Dr. Paul.
She said that a lof of problems with SIDS is due to babies not awakening, adding that if they slept for longer or too deeply then experts suggest that it could put them at risk. Moreover, Dr. Moon's report estimated that room-sharing lowered the risk of SIDS by 50%, while breastfeeding is also linked in preventing risks.
"People don't know quite why the risk is lowered," Dr. Ari Brown, an Austin, Texas-based pediatrician and author of the Baby411 book series, told CNN. "I might chalk it up to a parent's sixth sense when a baby is nearby and making erratic noises or not that helps save these babies."
However, Paul said that the reason could be that parents noticed when babies were awake as they are in the same room. "But that's the point .. If parents are in the room, they're responding unnecessarily."
Regardless, the recommendations of American Academy Pediatrics' could leave some parents unsure of when to separate the baby from their rooms.
"If we know that this is happening, then we can do a better job of providing proactive guidance for families," said Dr. Moon highlighting that doctors could advise room sharing parents who are more likely to bring their infant into bed overnight.
There are other factors that could come into play here, such as not having a choice when it comes to sharing a room with an infant - meaning that there are parents out there who live out in small spaces and do not have a separate room to put their child in. For such cases it is best to follow the guidance and let the infant sleep in their own bed without shifting them to the same bed as parents later at night.