By Jolandi Becker – MD of Good Night
Deciding where your baby should be sleeping is a very personal decision by you as a family. You know your family best! Even when assisting clients, this is a discussion as a team (us and the parents). Discuss the pros and cons of why you want to do it or why it might not be best for your family.
I am here to tell you that your baby/toddler/child can sleep well no matter WHERE they sleep. Another thing to keep in mind is that when you decide where your baby sleeps, this is NOT a permanent choice. You can change your mind if your initial choice did not work out and change where your child sleeps as they grow up or your circumstances change.
There are some important things to consider, though. We are here to give you some options and considerations:
Co-sleeping is when you share a sleep space with your child and can be divided into what is known as bedsharing and room sharing:
- Bedsharing: This is when parents and babies sleep together in a bed, couch or chair. If you choose to bedshare, you need to do it safely. The reality, however, as new research shows, is that bedsharing with younger babies is associated with higher risk of SIDS.
For newborns, the safest option is to use a co-sleeper. But once your baby can sit up at around five months, this is no longer a safe option, as the open sides of the co‑sleeper are quite low and your baby is top heavy. If your baby looks over the side of the co-sleeper, they can fall out. It’s also the reason why you should move your cot to a lower level at around the same time.
- Room sharing: This is when parents sleep in the same room as their babies but not in the same bed. The American Academy of Paediatrics (AAP) continues to recommend that parents room share with their baby for at least the first six months, preferably a year, because it is associated with lower rates of SIDS.
You can influence each other’s sleep, however – white noise throughout the night can possibly assist with this. Babies need 11 to 12 hours of sleep per night, you don’t; so you will go to bed later than your baby. When you come in later, it could wake them.
The same could happen if you go to the bathroom at night or if you wake up early. Babies are noisy sleepers and their general night noises could keep you out of sleep. Similarly, some baby cots are noisy and just your baby moving around, which they do, could wake you up.
2. OWN ROOM AND OWN COT
Creating a safe and beautiful baby room is often one of the top things moms do while pregnant. If you have created a beautiful, safe baby room, it might just be time to use it!
As mentioned before, you can influence each other’s sleep in a negative way when sharing a room. The reality, though, is that the move can often be worse for us as parents.
HOW to do the move out of the room:
- Moving them one shot. Not wasting time and just having them settle can especially help when your baby is close to 12 months or already a toddler.
- Gradually moving the cot further away from you in the room and then out. This gives baby and parents time to adjust.
- First having baby sleep in their own room and cot for naps, and once you all get used to the idea, then also moving them to their own room at night.
3. SHARING A ROOM WITH A SIBLING
We want your baby to be in your room or a separate space until they sleep through the night. This reduces the potential for your children to disturb each other at bedtime or wake each other at night.
Many parents are worried about the kids waking each other throughout the night. We have found this to be a very unfounded fear, as children are pretty good at blocking out sounds.
Some things that can help to create a comfortable shared sleeping environment:
- Block out curtains to help with bedtime and morning light.
- White noise placed between the cot and bed to minimise their sleeping sounds.
- Placing the cot and bed as far apart from each other as possible.
There is no right or wrong choice when it comes to where your little one sleeps. Inevitably, you might use all the options at one point in your parenting journey. To BETTER sleep!