Is it safe for a baby to sleep in their own room from birth? - Evidence Based Babies
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can babies sleep in their own room from birth

Is it safe for a baby to sleep in their own room from birth?

Can babies sleep in their own room from birth? A question that pops up for many new parents.

There are so many different opinions that it’s hard to know which is fact and which is myth and most important of all, what is best for you and your baby.

Should your baby be sleeping in their own crib, but in your room? Should your baby sleep ion their own room right from the start? Should your baby sleep with you in your bed?

So many people are so scared of doing things wrong, such as creating bad habits, spoiling their baby, not helping their baby become independent enough right from the start, or just putting their baby’s life in danger that they often ignore what is both biologically right and safe for them and their baby.

Hint: bedsharing is biologically normal, can be done safely and holds many benefits for you and your baby.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the World Health Organization (WHO) recommendations on infant sleep

Many organizations like the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the World Health Organization (WHO) have put together safe sleep recommendations for newborn sleep to help reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).

Here are a few of their sleep safety guidelines:

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) safe sleep recommendations

Because the risk of babies having an unexpected death is so high, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that babies need to sleep on a flat surface on their backs to reduce the baby’s risk for SIDS.

According to the AAP, placing your baby in their own crib or sleep space is the best way to reduce the risk of SIDS. They do not recommend bed sharing with newborn babies.

The AAP does have a room-sharing recommendation for the first 6 months of age. Keeping your baby close at night can help reduce infant sleep deaths.

According to the AAP guidelines, don’t use any loose sheets, blankets, stuffed animals, crib bumpers or anything loose in the baby’s sleep space. You want to have a safe sleeping environment not only to get a good night’s sleep but also to keep your baby as safe as possible.

Breastfeeding is recommended and can help to reduce the risk of SIDS deaths for your new baby as well.

The World Health Organization (WHO) safe sleep recommendations

The World Health Organization (WHO) also has safe sleep guidelines that are very similar.

Make sure to keep your baby on their back on a firm mattress for the first year of life.

They also encourage having a quiet sleep environment to ensure that your baby gets enough sleep, as less nighttime sleep can lead to sickness and more struggles.

Reasons why babies shouldn’t sleep in their own room from birth

New parents will want to reduce the risk of SIDS as much as they can, and one way to do that is to have your baby sleep in the same room with you for the early months after giving birth.

If your baby is in their own room, they are at a greater risk for accidental suffocation or SIDS. Dr. Fern Hauck shares that having a baby sleep in the parent’s room can cut the chance of a baby getting SIDS by 50%.

As you room share, you can also bond a lot easier, and it can help a lot with breastfeeding. If your baby is in a separate room, that can make it a lot harder to breastfeed and leave you exhausted with all the night feedings.

When you room share, you can also potentially sleep longer throughout the night. You won’t have to constantly get up to go to your baby’s nursery every time they need something. You can also easily pick up your baby to breastfeed without getting out of bed.

How breastfeeding and breast sleeping benefits the breastfeeding dyad

Breastfeeding is an incredible way to bond and connect with your child. This mother-child bond is very important and can increase when it comes to breast sleeping.

Breast sleeping is usually when the mother and the baby share the bed, and the baby can easily orient themselves to their mother’s breast to feed throughout the night.

Breast sleeping has so many benefits, but the most crucial is that it supports the mother-child dyad. It allows for your connection to grow stronger with your baby.

Breast sleeping helps to regulate your and your baby’s breathing and heart rate and it helps regulate your baby’s body temperature.

Breast sleeping helps the mother and the baby become more in sync with each other’s sleep cycles, meaning the mother is more likely to arouse easily, much like the baby.

Breast sleeping also causes more arousal in the baby, which means the baby won’t sleep as deeply or stay in a deep sleep for too long, this helps reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).

It also helps breastfeeding go more smoothly as well and can help increase and maintain your milk supply.

Safe sleep recommendations

There are many unsafe sleep practices that lead to sleep-related deaths in newborns. However, you can do plenty of things to have your baby sleep safely.

Sleep in the Same Room

As the APP guidelines state, it is best that babies sleep in the parent’s room for the first 6 months of life or longer.

For the second half of the first year, the SIDS risk does go down, so if you have noisy sleepers, you can transfer your older babies to a new room with their own space.

Make sure to have a safe sleep space

Whether your baby is sleeping in their own bassinet or crib, or bedsharing with you, it’s very important to always keep a safe sleep space to reduce the risk of suffocation and SIDS.

This includes a flat and firm matrass with no lose bedding or anything in the bed with you and the baby such as loose blankets, pillows etc.

Breastfeed

As breastfeeding can help reduce risk factors for SIDS, you will want to do your best to breastfeed throughout the night.

With all the night wakings, if you constantly have to get out of bed to nurse, you won’t be getting enough sleep. Your baby will more than likely get less sleep too. You might want to consider having your baby sleep in the same bed as you.

Safe bedsharing guidelines

Bedsharing can be done safely to help support the breastfeeding dyad and give you all longer stretches of sleep.
In 2019, the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine stated that the existing studies and evidence of bedsharing and breastfeeding did not support that it increased the risk of SIDS.

Many countries, such as Norway, Spain, and the United Kingdom, don’t advise against bedsharing when no hazardous conditions are present.

If you want to bedshare, here are a few practices to ensure you and your newborn stay safe:

Don’t smoke or drink

One of the risk factors with bed-sharing is if the mother is a smoker. If you cannot stay sober, that is another potential risk as well.

In this case, your baby will need their own bed and potentially own room to ensure they stay safe.

Position your body correctly

The most common position for bedsharing is called a cuddle curl, and it is one your body naturally does when you breastfeed.

Your knees come up, and your arm goes under your head by your pillow to protect your baby. You won’t roll over because of your bent knees, and no one can come into the space to harm your baby, either.

Sleep in a bed

Sleeping on a sofa or a recliner chair is not safe at all. You need to sleep in a bed with your little one if you are bedsharing. There are no other safe sleep locations.

You also need your bed to be safe as well. Avoid soft bedding, extra pillows, toys, and anything that can harm your little one.

Keep hair tied back

If you have long hair, you will want to keep it tied back and away from your baby. Just like with cords, it can potentially choke your baby.

Your baby should sleep on their back

Like the AAP guidelines, you still want your baby to sleep on their back. This is very doable with the cuddle curl, and your baby can still easily find your breast when they are hungry.

The Safe Sleep Seven Bedsharing Song

(To the tune of “Row, Row, Row Your Boat”)
No smoke, sober mom
Baby at your breast
Healthy baby on his back
Keep him lightly dressed.
Not too soft a bed
Watch the cords and gaps
Keep the covers off his head
For your nights and naps.

Important notes on safe sleep

It’s recommended to share a room with your baby for at least the first 6 months if life, 12 months would be optimal. Longer if you’d like.

Sleeping close to your baby helps reduce the risk of SIDS due to your baby being able to arouse more easily than they would if they’re sleeping alone.

Breast sleeping us the biological norm for humans, and if done safely, holds many benefits to both the mother, the baby and the breastfeeding relationship.

Regardless of what you choose, always make sure to follow safe sleep recommendations to keep your baby as safe as possible.

If you ever need any breastfeeding related information or support, be sure to contact an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC).

Additional information and resources

La Leche League International (LLLI) The safe sleep 7

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) safe sleep recommendations

The world Health Organization (WHO) safe sleep recommendations

Bedsharing may partially explain the reduced risk of sleep-related death in breastfed infants

Bedsharing and Breastfeeding: The Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine Protocol #6, Revision 2019

Safe bedsharing, breastfeeding and breast sleeping research by sleep and behavior expert professor James K Mkenna from the Mother-Baby Behavioral Sleep Laboratory

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