If you’re pregnant or recently welcomed your little one to the world, chances are you spent a great deal of time setting up your child’s nursery. From choosing paint colors, selecting the crib, and decorating to get that dreamy look, the process of getting your baby’s room ready is pretty special, but it’s also a lot of work. And what many parents don’t realize as they rush to get the nursery ready for their baby’s arrival, is that for the first few months of life (at least) their baby likely won’t even be sleeping in their own room at all. They’ll probably be in yours.
Room sharing is recommended for at least six months
The official recommendation from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) is for parents to room share with their baby in a separate sleep space for a minimum of six months and up to one year in order to reduce the risk of SIDS. Room sharing is also convenient for parents to be able to quickly respond to their baby and offer feeds as needed throughout the night. Many parents may decide to room share for an extended period of time for this reason alone.
However, despite the benefits, there is a slight catch-22 when it comes to room-sharing with your baby. Studies have shown that babies sleep in a lighter stage of sleep with more frequent arousals when they are in close proximity to a parent, especially a breastfeeding mother. So while this does help decrease the risk of SIDS, it also means everyone is likely getting less restorative sleep. Some babies are also naturally lighter sleepers or noisy sleepers, which can contribute to less sleep overall.
When should babies sleep in their own room?
While there isn’t a perfect age to move baby to their own room, my professional recommendation is to wait until a minimum of six months, when the risk of SIDS greatly decreases. After that point, you will want to take into consideration a few other factors.
- Is your baby a noisy sleeper and/or waking up frequently throughout the night?
While frequent arousals are developmentally normal, some babies are just naturally more sensitive and easily startled when sharing a room. If you find this is the case with your baby, they may sleep more soundly at night in their own room.
Similarly, some babies are naturally loud sleepers (grunting, tossing and turning, etc.) which can prevent parents from being able to sleep well—this is another factor for parents to consider.
2. Is your baby outgrowing their bassinet?
Many babies sleep in a bassinet for the first few months of life, but you may notice after six months your baby is starting to outgrow the bassinet and needs to be in a bigger crib. If you don’t have room for a crib in your bedroom, then moving your baby to their own room might be the best option.
3. Is your baby still nursing throughout the night?
If your baby is still waking often to feed throughout the night (say, more than once) then it might be more convenient to wait until your baby drops a night feed (or two) before moving them into their own room. Going back and forth between rooms to offer feeds throughout the night would likely be more difficult for mom, so in this situation it probably makes more sense to wait.
4. Does your baby have a medical condition or other concerns to consider?
I have worked with some parents who have held off on moving their baby to their own room because the child has sleep apnea or has a history of other medical conditions present that require the parents to be nearby. In this situation, I always recommend following the guidance given by your pediatrician or other medical provider.
5. Does your baby have a room to move to?
Moving your baby to another room may not be an option for you due to space limitations in your home, so if this is the case, continuing to room share may be the best option. As a general rule of thumb, I do not recommend that infants share a room with a sibling younger than 6 (or older based on maturity level) due to safety concerns.
How to transition baby to their own room
When you do decide to transition your baby to their own room, I recommend taking a gradual approach, by helping them first become familiar with the new space during the day for naps and playtime, and then practicing the bedtime routine in their room a few nights per week before making a permanent transition.
Ultimately, it is up to parents to decide when they feel most comfortable moving their baby to their own room based on safety and other factors. Personally, I was never ready to move my babies out of my room until seven or eight months, which is also around the time many babies naturally start sleeping through the night in longer stretches.
Remember that you know your baby best and if it doesn’t feel right to you to make this transition yet, then it is perfectly fine to wait until you do feel ready. There is no perfect age to do this and it’s never too late to make the transition.