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Babies Who Sleep Alone May Sleep Longer, Doctors Say

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Baby sleeping is a minefield of studies and judgment and contradictory health recommendations, but at a certain point we just really want the babies to sleep. Now the AAP is adjusting its sleep recommendations about where babies sleep for the best, safest sleep.

For a while now the AAP has been telling new parents that the safest place for a baby to sleep is in their own bed in the parents’ room, rather than co-sleeping in the parents’ bed or in their own room in a nursery. The AAP previously said that babies should sleep in the same room as the parents for at least six months and preferably a whole year to decrease the risk of SIDS, saying that room-sharing with the parents reduced the risk of SIDS by 50 percent. But now a new study indicates that babies who sleep in a separate room by four months old might sleep better than room-sharing babies.

According to Yahoo News, the AAP’s new guidance is based on a study from Pennsylvania State University that looked at 256 parents and infants. All the parents were given info on SIDS prevention, and half the parents were also encouraged to have the child sleeping in a separate room by four months old.

By the time the babies were nine months old, researchers say the babies who slept on their own by four months of age were sleeping stretches of uninterrupted sleep about 46 minutes longer on average than the babies who slept in their parents’ rooms.

There could be a lot of different reasons for the babies who slept in their own rooms sleeping longer. Maybe not getting picked up every time they make a little grunt helps train them to go back to sleep on their own. Maybe the parents’ noises don’t wake the babies up. Maybe the babies who sleep in their own rooms are just better sleepers because parents kept the badly sleeping babies in the rooms with them so they’d be more convenient for nighttime soothing or feeding.

(Image: iStockPhoto / katrinaelena)