Dr. Sarah Mitchell
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When Can You Move Your Baby Out of Your Room?

I never thought I would worry about when I could move my baby out of my room and into his own.

Nope, not me.  I was into attachment parenting and planned on having my boy in my room for the long haul. It was part of my natural parenting plan.

Yep, keeping him with us was the way to go.

…until….

I couldn’t sleep a wink.

Having him so close by I heard every burp, grunt, cough, sniffle and toot.

I literally I woke up 30,000 in one night. *sigh* Well it actually felt like I didn’t sleep at all, but I must have, right?

But the guilt to move him further away was heavy.

I had read the American Academy of Pediatrics recommendations to room share until 6 months of age and preferably 1 year to reduce the incidence of SIDS.

Having always been a rule follower, the idea of moving him out earlier than 6 months made me feel very guilty, irresponsible and a little selfish.

But seriously…. 6 months to a year!!!

That seems like a very long time to have fractured nighttime sleep, so I did a little research.

According the Sleep Foundation, the incidence of SIDS peaks at 2-3 months of age.

So then, does having your baby in your room until 6 months, let alone a year seem like a long time to you?   Because it does to me.  It seems like a sentance!

While I understand these guidelines are in place to protect our most vulnerable, these guidelines make me feel somewhat despaired for parents across the country who are light sleepers like me.

You know what is brutal on your mental state and body? Becoming a new parent.

Add fractured nighttime sleep and you’ve got a cocktail of sleep deprivation and resentment brewing.

Is it safe to move your baby out of your room before 1 year?

Let’s dissect the AAP guidelines a little further for more perspective.

The recommendations in the AAP guidelines to reduce SIDS  are outlined here*:

  • Place the baby on his or her back on a firm sleep surface such as a crib or bassinet with a tight-fitting sheet.
  • Avoid use of soft bedding, including crib bumpers, blankets, pillows and soft toys. The crib should be bare.
  • Share a bedroom with parents, but not the same sleeping surface, preferably until the baby turns 1 but at least for the first six months. Room-sharing decreases the risk of SIDS by as much as 50 percent.
  • Avoid baby’s exposure to smoke, alcohol and illicit drugs.

*Taken from www.aap.org.

These recommendations, announced in 1992 have reduced SIDS by 50%.  Clearly, they are effective in protecting our most vulnerable.

However, there is hope for light sleepers….

Most recently, a July 2017 study in the Journal of Pediatrics suggests that after 4 months of age, children sleep better in their own room.

I read that and smiled.  It is something I have known for years from my own personal experience and from those with coaching clients.  Kids sleep better in their own rooms.

The outcomes of the study showed after 4 months, children who slept in their own room had:

  • Better sleep consolidation, meaningless fractured nighttime sleep
  • Great amounts of nighttime sleep

If the kids were showing those outcomes, you can bet the parents were as well.

This study showed that kids who sleep in their own room slept on average 45 minutes more per night.  You might ask yourself if 45 minutes is a significant amount of time?  Does it matter?

From my experience “YES”, it matters.

There is a recommended amount of 24 hour and nighttime sleep that each child needs by month.

In my practice as a sleep consultant, I have found that deviating from that 24 hour amount, even by 30 minutes, can have a profound effect on a child’s behaviour and sleeping ability.

Kids who aren’t getting enough 24 sleep generally have shorter naps, and more night waking.

You can click here to download my sleep summary chart. It shows how much sleep your child needs in 24 hours by age.

Does keeping your child in your room until 1 year help decrease your incidence of SIDS which peaks at 2-3 months?

Where does a Mom balance “recommendation” for her child, note that recommendations are not equal to evidence, and her own mental and physical health?  That is the struggle.

We have to consider the mother baby unit and balance.  Both have to be getting what they need.

While it can be handy to have your newborn close to you when you are feeding frequently during the night, after 4 months, kids and parents sleep better in their own rooms as per the study above.

In my experience as a sleep consultant, I have found that kids and parents sleep better in their own rooms.

If the quality of sleep is important to you, you now have evidence that you and your child will sleep better apart after 4 months.

My personal experience:

While not recommended academically, I moved my son out of our room around 3 months.  I slowly moved his bassinet further and further away from our bed and out into the hallway for a few nights, and then finally next door into his room.  It was a slow progression because I was a first time Mom and unsure of myself.

My second time around I moved my daughter straight from the bassinet into her crib in her room around 8 weeks.  The second time around I was more confident in my parenting decisions and had the experience to back it up.  I need her further away from me so I could sleep more soundly and not be woken up every 2 hours with her toots, grunts, and sleep cries.

Both my kids were big for their age and had plenty of neck strength.  I followed all the AAP recommendations about safe sleep environment including no blankets, a crib and firm sleep surface.

Moving them out early is not recommended by the AAP but our family functioned better this way.

If you found this article of interest, you might also be interested in learning about The 4 Month Sleep Regression and how it can pulverize baby sleep.

If you’re looking for a step by step approach to confidently and compassionately teach your baby or toddler to sleep .I’ve laid this out in my online course and Facebook community.  My online course Baby Sleep Training, Step by Step will teach you everything you need to know about your child’s sleep needs. How to teach her to self soothe and what life after sleep training looks like.  You can learn more here.

Share your experience about how and when to move baby to own room. Any tips you would like to share. I would love to know.

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