yawning newborn baby
New Baby Parenthood Sleep

Making Sense of Sleep Guidelines (Not Rules)

By Emily Ramirez

Ah, there is nothing like having a newborn baby and having to wade through the very specific sleep guidelines when you yourself have only had 17 minutes of consecutive sleep. Here's a breakdown of what they are.

But first, a bit of background

The American Academy of Pediatrics sleep guidelines recommend babies spend at least the first 6 months, but ideally up to one year, of their life sleeping in the parent’s bedroom, in their own safe sleep environment (not co-sleeping in the same bed). These guidelines are focused on safe sleeping and further reducing the risk of infant death by SIDS.

More recently, a group of pediatricians released a study showing babies who room share with their parents (after 4 months of age) sleep less at night and for shorter stretches compared to those who sleep in their own rooms by the age of 4 months.

While the focus of this study is sleep quality, it does take into consideration the effect of poor sleep on the health and safety of the family, including the increased rate of unsafe sleep practices previously associated with sleep-related death.

The problem

In a nutshell, these findings and the AAP recommendations aren’t entirely compatible. As impossible as many parenting tasks may seem, it is literally impossible to both room-share AND have your baby sleeping in their own room at the same time.

So what does this mean for you?

Sleep recommendations have a really amazing ability to make you feel like shit.

Maybe you and your baby are able to follow them to a 'T', everyone sleeps, your house always smells like freshly baked cupcakes, and you never forget to pay your water bill.

But maybe your baby only sleeps when they have their own space to sprawl out, where they aren’t subjected to your snoring husband, who sounds like a dying water buffalo.

Or maybe they sleep best next to you.

Or maybe they spend half of the night in their room, and half of the night in your room, but your house still smells like cupcakes sometimes, and so far you haven’t forgotten to pay your water bill.

So much of parenting is taking the information that has been provided to you and applying it in a reasonable way that works for your family.

Remember they are guidelines, not rules

While all these experts have a baby’s best interest in mind, they take a very general, broad, sweeping approach to making these recommendations.

Not every recommendation will work for every baby, and not every recommendation should be applied to every baby.

Knowing what the safest options are and doing your best to utilize them in a reasonable way is what parenting is all about, from day one to every day after.

Our next reco: Best Safe Sleep Options

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