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One of the most important things a new parent must learn is getting their baby to sleep safely at night. One decision that parents find especially tricky is where the baby should sleep. As the baby grows, the question becomes when should the baby sleep in their own room? This topic can be confusing for many parents, as the research and recommendations have changed over time.
The best place for a baby to sleep is in a safe space in the same room as an adult caregiver for the first 6-12 months, according to Rednose Australia. They also recommend babies sleep in a cot next to the adult caregiver’s bed. Room sharing has been shown to reduce the risk of sudden unexpected death in infancy (SUDI).
Another benefit of room sharing is having the baby nearby for feeding in the middle of the night. It’s much more convenient than having to get up in the cold and the dark to slouch to the nursery! Having your baby in the same room as you will likely make it easier to stick with breastfeeding longer. Besides, both the feeding and the room-sharing help you build a stronger parent-child bond!
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that babies share the parents’ room (but not the bed) “ideally for a year, but at least for six months”. However, some studies have shown that babies that slept in their own rooms from 4 months old got more sleep. In fact, both the parents and the baby slept better in separate rooms!
A study in the journal Pediatrics compared three situations: babies who slept in their own room before 4 months old, babies who slept in their parents’ room, and those who moved to their own room between 4-9 months. The best sleepers at 9 months old were those who moved into their own room before 4 months old. However, it was also suggested that it is the waking up during the night that helps in preventing SIDS.
Understandably, at some point, you’ll want a bit more of your own space again. Most parents will have moved their baby to a crib in their own room by the baby’s first birthday.
However, each baby and each family is unique. That’s why it’s impossible to make a blanket statement about when it’s the right time for a baby to sleep in their own room. Your baby’s development will affect the decision, for instance when they learn to roll from their belly to their back. How often your baby wakes up through the night will likely also weigh up in your decision.
When it comes to parenting, there’s no one right way of doing it. We recommend double-checking with your paediatrician to see how your baby’s growth is progressing and what they recommend.