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.
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.