Isaac has just turned 5 months and has now been sleeping in his own room for the last few nights. Coming to the decision to move him has not been easy. We were confronted by conflicting advice regarding when to do it. Safety was our main concern. However, we also considered the ability to transition at different ages and the sleep quality and comfort of both him and us.
The strongest advice we found was that babies should be in the same room but in a separate sleeper until at least 6 months of age. The reasons for this were woolly at best but on the whole this ‘seemed’ the safest option. Therefore I am not advocating moving your baby too early. Instead I thought it would be helpful to explain why we decided to move Isaac just that little bit earlier.
Why 6 months?
I have struggled to find a clear answer for why babies should sleep in the same room as their parents. It a rather arbitrary age to choose. The Lullaby Trust quotes findings that the incidence of SIDS is higher for babies sleeping in their own room. However, the reasons why this happens are not stated. When deciding what to do with Isaac, the closest I found to a ‘reason’ was on mumsnet which is obviously not research-based! Some mums claimed that babies use the sound of their own mother’s breathing to regulate their own. I am very sceptical of this. How loud would the mother’s breathing need to be?! And what about daytime naps when the mother isn’t asleep?! Unfortunately, this theory appears to have been plucked from thin air.
Why we settled on 5 months
We decided that our baby would benefit from moving to his own room a little earlier. Here is why:
- Isaac has been napping in his own room since birth. It was important to us that he didn’t fear a transition to his own room when moving to night sleeps.
- Since birth, when Isaac wakes in the night I have always taken him to his own room for a feed and nappy change before returning him to his co-sleeper. As a deep sleeper, I wouldn’t trust myself not to fall asleep if I fed Isaac in my bed. It also helped Isaac to gradually get used to his own room.
- Isaac has mostly slept for a stretch of 6+ hours since 3 months. I don’t need him close by anymore to wait for regular hunger or comfort cues.
- We have the BT video baby monitor on my bedside table so I am alerted if he needs me.
- Isaac’s mattress in his own room is so much more comfortable. He also has so much more room to thrash about to his little heart’s content! Isaac is only a smallish baby yet he was already beginning to fill the whole space in the next-to-me crib.
- I was beginning to fear (possibly irrationally) that Isaac might pull our duvet over his face in the night as he loves to put everything in his mouth.
- We had just spent some time at Isaac’s grandparents where he slept in our room but not attached to the bed. He slept so well (as did we!) On our return home we thought we’d try him in his own room as the transition had kind-of already started. It worked beautifully and that is how it all began!
I thoroughly recommend this baby monitor:
One recent study reviewed on the NHS website challenges the notion that babies should spend longer than 6 months in their parents’ room. This website goes into more detail on the study. Results showed that the best time to move a baby to their own room is between 4 and 6 months. Babies moved at this age slept longer than those remaining with their parents for longer. One of my concerns about sharing my bedside with my baby for too long was that he could pull my duvet covers over his face. When babies share the sleep-space the parent (when completely exhausted themselves) can be more tempted to bring them into their bed. This can significantly increase the possibility of SIDS if the parent were then to fall asleep with the baby in their arms. The researchers conclude that “room-sharing at ages 4 and 9 months is associated with less night-time sleep in both the short and long-term, reduced sleep consolidation, and unsafe sleep practices previously associated with sleep-related death.”
Overall, while I am not advocating ignoring advice I am suggesting it is very vague and can be misleading for worried new parents. Make the decision that is right for you and your baby and most importantly stick to it!