When it comes to parenting quandaries, sleep is pretty high on the list. Babies have the unique power to somehow sleep all day and night, and yet not really sleep at all. With this in mind, you likely have questions about safe sleep habits for your little one. For instance, how old is a baby before they can sleep on their own? As with almost every other parenting topic, the answer is: it depends.
In general, the safest place for very young infants to sleep is in the parent's bedroom. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), letting your infant sleep in your room, but on a separate sleep surface, may be a fantastic way to reduce the risk of SIDS. As further noted by the AAP, keeping this arrangement for the first six months of your baby's life is ideal, and it's even better if you can manage to continue this method of co-sleeping until your child is 1 year old.
Those are the best-case scenario guidelines, but of course real life can always make matters more difficult. For some parents, having a fussy baby in the bedroom can make sleep more or less impossible. As noted on Zero to Three, there is plenty of variation in the age at which babies first sleep on their own, with some starting off in their own room from the very first night home. Sometimes you have to make sleep decisions from the perspective of what works best for your entire family.
With that said, there are a few things to keep in mind before putting your baby down for the night in a separate room. For instance, WebMd noted that babies born prematurely may be at an increased risk for SIDS, so in these cases you may want to practice co-sleeping as long as possible. In general, if your baby has any particular medical concerns, then you may want to discuss safe sleeping habits with your pediatrician beforehand.
In most cases, though, deciding to have your baby sleep alone depends on your family's needs, as well as your baby's particular timeline for sleeping independently. For every family, there comes a day when it's best to stop co-sleeping. You'll know when the time is right.