Sleep and babies have gotten scientists and common folk into heated discussions on safety and quality. But it's the kind of debate you welcome; after all, we're talking about precious cargo here. So what is the latest news on sleep? It's about when you need to move your baby into his own room.
In a new study published in the journal Pediatrics, which takes a closer look at sleeping arrangements of young children, it turns out that many babies get more zzz's if they sleep in their room.
The researchers analyzed 249 pairs of moms and their firstborns. Nurses checked up on them when their babies were 1, 4, 6 and 9 months old. The mothers also answered detailed questions about their babies’ sleep habits: where they slept, how often they woke up at night, and their longest stretch of slumber.
The results showed that 9-month-old babies who slept in their rooms before they turned 4 months old got an average of 40 minutes of extra sleep, compared to babies of the same age who were still sleeping in their parents’ room. Babies who got their rooms after they turned 4 months old slept 26 minutes longer. The findings also showed long-term effects: toddlers who still sleep with their parents for almost a year slept less compared to tots who moved to their own rooms earlier.
"Inadequate infant sleep can lead to obesity, poor sleep later in life, and can negatively affect parents," lead researcher Dr. Ian Paul, professor of pediatrics and public health sciences at Penn State College of Medicine, tells PopSugar.
"When the baby doesn’t sleep well, and the parent doesn’t sleep well, it’s not good for baby and not good for the family," he told Time.
Results of the study also showed that room sharing with the baby almost always led to bed sharing during transitions in the middle-of-the-night wakings.
Dr. Paul advice: parents should move their child to his or her room by the time he turns 6 months old at least. In recently revised sleep guidelines, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), however, recommended that babies sleep in the same room as their parents -- but not on the same bed -- at least for six months to a year.
In an editorial, Dr. Rachel Moon and Dr. Fern Hauck from the Department of Pediatrics and Family Medicine at the University of Virginia School of Medicine stand by the new AAP sleep arrangement recommendations for safety reasons. It also helps a mom who is nursing on demand throughout the night; she can better monitor her baby and notice if his breathing changes.
According to Moon and Fern, the AAP's "primary objective of safe sleep recommendations will always be to minimize the risk of SIDS and other sleep-related infant deaths." If the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) diminishes around the baby's fourth month and long-term sleep best practices are factored in, then the guidelines could be up for revisions soon, after more research has been done.
At the end of the day, it’s the parents' decision. The Filipino culture, which leans more towards attachment parenting, has largely ignored western sleep practices. We like keeping our babies close to us, watching them (with awe) as they sleep.
Whatever you decide, keep in mind that parents who know about SIDS sometimes still put babies to sleep in sleep in unsafe ways or hazardous environments, according to Dr. Paul. In his study last year also published in the journal Pediatrics, he recorded videos of parents putting their babies to bed one night each at 1, 3 and 6 months old. The most common risk that the videos showed was babies put in cribs with loose bedding, pillows, stuffed animals and other items that increase the danger. The videos also showed infants sleeping on their stomachs or sides, and in risky places like sofas and beside parents in bed.
Make it a point it a point to lay your baby down to sleep on his back, as advised by pediatricians and the most recent safe sleep recommendations from the AAP. Sleeping in any other position -- on his side or tummy -- increases the risk of (SIDS) and suffocation, and according to research from the group, swaddling ups these chances even more.