According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the best place for a baby to sleep is in his parents’ bedroom. He should sleep in his own crib or bassinet (or in a co-sleeper safely attached to the bed), but shouldn’t be in his own room until he is at least 6 months, better 12 months. This is because studies have shown that when babies are close by, it can help reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, or SIDS.
A study published in the June, 2017 journal Pediatrics, however, points out a downside to this: babies don’t sleep as well, and by extension, neither do their parents.
Researchers found that “early independent sleepers,” babies who slept in their own room before 4 months, slept longer, and for longer stretches, than babies who slept in their parents’ room. At 9 months, these babies were better sleepers, not just compared to those who slept in their parents’ room, but also to those who transitioned to their own room between 4 and 9 months.
This is no small thing for sleep-deprived parents. Even a few extra minutes can make all the difference — and given that research suggests that sleeping well in infancy improves the chances of sleeping well in childhood, the study seems to suggest that getting babies out of their parents’ room from the get-go could be a real sanity saver.
The study also found that babies who shared a room with their parents were four times more likely to end up in their parents’ bed during the night — and more likely to have pillows, blankets, and other unsafe stuff around when they sleep. Interestingly, babies who slept in a different room were more likely to have a consistent bedtime and bedtime routine, something that has been shown to help babies sleep better. But as with most things in medicine, it’s not that simple.
How to Tell If Baby Is Ready for Her Own Room
If you want to wait until the 12-month mark before transitioning baby to the crib, great! But if you’re ready to move baby before then, keep a few things in mind.
First, check with your pediatrician to make sure baby is growing well and doesn’t need middle-of-the-night feedings. Another sign your child may be ready for the move? If she can roll over from her belly to her back.
How long baby can sleep in a stretch matters too. If the baby is waking up every two, three or four hours, he might not be ready to move to the nursery. If the baby can sleep for six hours or more, it’s a great time to consider shipping the baby out. Even if he’s a great sleeper, consider logistics carefully. It’s important to be in close proximity to baby during the night so you can get to him quickly if something seems off. If your bedroom and baby’s nursery are on the opposite sides of the house, you might want to wait the 12 months before moving baby into his own room.