Fort Worth, Texas,
10:46 AM

New Study Finds Babies Sleep Longer, Safer If They Don’t Share Room With Parents

New research finds room-sharing associated with less sleep and unsafe sleep practices

A new study has found that babies sleep longer if they don’t sleep in the same bedroom as their parents.

The research, published in the July 2017 of Pediatrics, found “that room-sharing with infants at ages 4 months and 9 months was associated with less nighttime sleep, shorter sleep stretches and unsafe sleep practices.”

The study also found that babies who shared rooms at 4 and 9 months had four times the odds of moving into the parents’ bed during the night, a risk factor for Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.

“I encourage people to get their babies into their own rooms, although it definitely seems like everyone has a different time that they are ready for the move,” said Hillary Pearson, M.D., medical director of Cook Children’s Sleep Laboratory. “I think it is more about the parent/child interaction, how well a baby is feeding/growing, and whether it is a parent’s first baby that factor in to moving into an independent sleep space. I have also tried to encourage ‘middle ground’ - with the baby’s sleep space in a closet or bathroom nearby with the doors closed. This way everyone can “ease in” to moving the baby away from immediate view. I think moving the baby helps to promote self-soothing, which makes for better sleep for both parents and the baby.”

Parents of newborns know a good night’s sleep can be hard to come by – especially when they decide to let the baby try to sleep alone.

Frank McGehee, M.D., a Cook Children’s pediatrician in Fort Worth, says that while you never want your child to experience discomfort, you aren’t doing babies any favors by not helping them learn to get to sleep on their own.

“A parent’s job is not always to make their child happy, but to meet his or her needs,” Dr. McGehee said. “When your child gets older, he or she may not like algebra, but it will serve the child well to learn.”

Dr. McGehee suggests letting your child sleep in a crib near you for the first two to four months after birth. Then he suggests moving to another room.

He recommends these steps:

  • Don’t do anything for the first 10 to 15 seconds the baby cries. Then, walk in and use verbal soothing to calm the baby.
  • After another 15 or 20 seconds of crying, touch the baby and speak softly in a soothing voice.
  • Don’t let the baby cry more than five minutes before intervening and picking up him or her.
  • Continue soothing until the baby is comfortable enough to fall asleep on his or own, then place the child back in the crib.

While in the crib, parents should keep blankets, pillows, bumpers, stuffed animals, mobiles, monitors and other humans or animals out of a baby’s sleep environment.

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