RESEARCH finds sharing a bedroom with a baby impacts on sleep for both parents and baby.
Researchers say babies lose the ability to soothe themselves and are also at risk of tantrums and childhood obesity.
Infants over 6mths can lose on average 40 minutes of sleep a night.
In a new study published in the journal Paediatrics, researchers led by Dr. Ian Paul, professor of paediatrics and public health sciences at Penn State College of Medicine, took a close look at the effects that sleeping arrangements have on young children.
They studied 249 pairs of mums and their first-born infants; nurses visited the mums at home when the babies were one, four, six and nine months old, and the mums answered detailed questions about their babies’ sleep habits, like where they slept, how often they woke up at night and their longest stretch of slumber.
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They found that at nine months, babies who had slept in their own rooms before they were four months old slept on average 40 minutes more than babies who were still sleeping in their parents’ room at nine months.
Babies who went to their own rooms after four months slept about 26 minutes more. The effects seemed to last, too.
Even at 2.5 years old, the toddlers who slept with their parents for nearly a year were still sleeping less than those who had been moved to their own room earlier.
“This decision in the first year has potential longer term consequences,” says Paul.
HOWEVER the findings are counter to the recommendations that parents share a room – but not a bed – with their infants for at least six months and preferably until they reach their first birthday. These guidelines are meant to lower the risk of sudden infant death syndrome, or SIDS, which may occur while an infant is sleeping.
While there’s evidence to recommend room-sharing with infants for 3 to 6 months, data simply doesn’t support continuing the practice beyond that age.
While some parents may find this information confusing, doctors can use the new study to give better guidance to room-sharing parents who may be more likely to bring their baby into bed overnight, possibly putting them at risk.
SIDS does recommend to sleep baby in a safe cot in the parents room.
Six ways to sleep baby safely and reduce the risk of sudden unexpected death in infancy:
- Sleep baby on back
- Keep head and face uncovered
- Keep baby smoke free before and after birth
- Safe sleeping environment night and day
- Sleep baby in a safe cot in parents’ room
- Breastfeed baby
Did you have your little one in your room at all? How did you find it?
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