It’s best for infants to sleep in their own rooms at six months of age, new research says, countering national guidelines.
Ian Paul, a professor of pediatrics and public health sciences at Penn State College of Medicine and lead author on the study, said,
The longer you leave a baby in the same room as a parent, the worse the outcomes are in terms of sleep.
The American Academy of Pediatrics upgraded its recommendations last fall regarding parents “room-sharing” with their babies. To decrease the chances for SIDS, the AAP advised that at infants should be at least six months old, and ideally 12 months, in the same bedroom, but not in the same bed. Prior to that, guidelines recommended moving babies to their own rooms by six months old.
Paul said, “The recommendation beyond 6 months was not based on real data but more on expert opinion. That led us to question that recommendation.” He noted that sleep experts have been saying for a long time that after the first few months, parents should “transition your baby into their own room to help how well and how long the baby sleeps.”
For this study, researchers went over questionnaires given to 230 first-time mothers. The participants answered them when their babies were 4, 9, 12 and 30 months old.
At 9 months, the infants who slept in their own rooms got 40 minutes more sleep nightly than those who slept in the same room as their mother. In addition, the babies who slept on their own at 9 months got 45 minutes more of sleep per night when they reached 30 months, compared to other babies, the study found.
Babies who shared rooms with parents at 4 and 9 months also had four times the odds of migrating to their parents’ beds. “That’s a known and very established risk factor for SIDS,” Paul said.
The study was published in Pediatrics.