The Latest Baby Sleep Study and What it Means

Hold on to your sleep deprived butts. A new study has been released making it even more difficult to know what in the holy hell you should be doing with your baby to keep it safe, and ensure it (and everyone else) is getting appropriate amounts of sleep.


A little background:

The American Academy of Pediatrics released their updated sleep guidelines in October of 2016 recommending babies spend at least the first 6 months, but ideally up to one year, of their life sleeping in the parents’ 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. The focus of this study is sleep quality, though it does take into consideration the effect of poor sleep on the health and safety of the family.



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, and everyone sleeps, and 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 way that works for your family.

While all of 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.

Bottom line: you do you, Mama.

Related: Safe Sleep: The AAP Wants Me to do What??!!
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  • Transitioning at 4.5 months felt very comfortable for us but every parent has to do whats best for their own family. My daughter’s Dr recommended transitioning at the same time as starting rice cereal & sleep training. We transitioned from bassinet to crib a little before 3 months as well. It worked well for us since I was going back to a hectic job at the same time. I don’t think we would have been able to sleep train if we were in the same room.

  • Um, I’m going to go ahead an burst a major bubble here as a biological scientist. Some (as in 3 of the 5 results they report) of the results in this study were NOT STATISTICALLY SIGNIFICANT. They even state their significance level (<0.05) in the methods, and then still report the results in the abstract as if ALL of them are significant. The point of that is statistical significance is to say whether things are actually different. In this case, only two of their groups actually were: at 9 months and 30 months they slept a bit longer. Medical scientists are notorious for doing this kind of thing (they don't understand statistics well as they are poorly trained in it). So always take a huge grain of salt….

    Regardless I agree with the message above: You do you! Happy sleeping…!

  • I think Kristin has hit the nail on the head here. The reason room sharing is safer for SIDS is because the babies sleep less deeply. Every parent has to make their own decision, but understanding the evidence and the guidelines may help you to make that decision

  • Yeah… our solution was baby (2 of them now) in their own room with a high-quality baby monitor. Your instinct and your judgment are as important as AAP recommendations.

  • I always worried about SIDS when my kids were younger. Now I have a grandchild on the way and now I have to worry some more. My babies were never alone in a room by themselves for at least the first year. Either they were in a bassinet in our room or they always had siblings in the room if we moved them out of our room. I didn’t know about the deep sleep they would have to be in so that was informative. I had always heard to never lay them on their stomach. Thanks for the info.

  • As a sleep consultant and Postpartum Doula, I don’t see them totally contradicting themselves. One of the biggest risks for SIDS is when baby does fall into a deep sleep and does not wake up. AAP says that in order to reduce the risk of SIDS (by keeping baby in lighter REM sleep more frequently), keep baby in a room with others so they will wake and want to eat more frequently. The new study suggests that babies sleep longer and deeper by being in a room solo. They are both saying the same thing, just one has a priority of deeper sleep, while one wants to avoid it.

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