For some parents, the sleep struggle is all too real. If you've had a baby who just can't seem to find a way to sleep, then you know you'll try almost anything to get some rest. The sleep conundrum is a complicated one because there's no one solution and each baby, and parent, is different. So what may work for one child may not be helpful to another. For some families, co-sleeping works best, while others may wonder, will my baby sleep better in their own room? While researching this topic, there wasn't just one simple answer to this question, so I asked a few different experts to get a range of opinions on the subject of infant sleep habits.
If you've experienced a baby that struggles to settle down, it's almost impossible to share your room. Depending on your strategy, room-sharing may not be what's best for everyone. On the other hand, some parents prefer room-sharing for both comfort and convenience, and this also works great for both parents and baby. There's never a one-size-fits-all to any aspect parenting and sleep strategies are no exception. But if you're looking for some answers, here's what the experts have to say on sleep.
Sleep consultant Dr. Sarah Mitchell tells Romper in an email that it's really up to parents when, and if, they allow their infant to sleep in their own room. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends room-sharing, not bed sharing, for at least the first 6 months of life or ideally the first year to reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
Dr. Mitchell also cited a study that suggested infants who slept in their own room after 4 months of age slept for longer periods of time undisturbed. She elaborates on the subject saying, "As a sleep consultant, everyone — parents and child — sleep better in their own rooms. Moms are so tuned into their babies they hear every burp, toot, grunt a baby makes when she's not even awake. These lead to fractured night time sleep for parents, which is exhausting." This I know to be true from my own personal experience. Being so hyper aware that there's a precious sleeping baby right next to you makes you sleep with one eye open so to speak.
When it comes to sleep training, Dr. Mitchell explains that parents often forget to take into account their child's "age appropriate sleep needs." She explains, "Many people think that sleep training is letting your baby cry herself to sleep. It's so much more than that. Sleep training is taking away that external sleep crutch that your child has learned to associate with sleep." She explains that common sleep crutches are motion, touch and sucking. "A child who needs to be nursed to sleep gets used to falling asleep on a full stomach, with something warm in her mouth, and surrounded by warmth. When she wakes up in the night, like all humans do, she needs those same conditions to fall back to sleep again." When your baby is able to fall asleep and stay asleep on their own, both parents and baby get a better night's sleep.
Certified sleep science coach and founder of website Tuck.com, Bill Fish, makes a valid point when he explains that with today's technologies, babies can sleep safely in their own room starting from a very young age. He tells Romper, "By using a video monitor you can see exactly what is going on in the crib with your baby and enter the room when necessary." Such a great tool for moms who need to catch up on some much needed sleep. Fish also explains that infants often go through what's called the four month regression. "A baby is going through profound body and brain growth. They are evolving as humans, and what may have been a great sleeper is now whiny and crazy. This is completely natural, and should be looked at that way." So, don't worry moms. If you're dealing with a fussy baby right now, it's likely a normal and temporary phase. Allowing them to sleep in their own room may be the best solution for both you and your little one.
There is never just one right approach when it comes to finding the best sleep solution. The best thing moms can do is to try different methods to see what works and what they feel comfortable with. It may take some time, but rest assured, sleep troubles don't last forever. If you're at a loss, why not try allowing your baby to safely sleep in their own room. The results may surprise you.