Moving your baby to their own room, when and how?

Have you considered when is the right time to move your baby to their own room?

If we consider a safe sleeping environment, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that a baby sleeps in the parents’ room, in their own cot, for the first 6 months of life. This seems to reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). The highest risk of SIDS is between 1 and 4 months of age, but after 6 months, the risk decreases, making it safe to move your baby to their own room.

A study from 2017 showed that children from the age of 4 months sleep better in their own rooms, both in the short and long term. Babies who were moved at 4 months of age had more consolidated sleep at 4 months of age, compared to those who shared a room.

The same study showed that at 9 months, those moved earlier slept longer during the night compared to those moved closer to 9 months, and those who still shared a room at 9 months of age, slept the shortest night. We’re talking about an average of 45 minutes longer sleep. Is it so long? Yes, those extra 45 minutes can make a difference in how well-rested both you and your baby are.

Let’s not forget about the importance of the parent’s sleep either. If your baby sleeps better, you sleep better too (usually the mother, that’s just how it is), and we must not underestimate your need for sleep.

Now you might be thinking, “But AAP recommends sharing a room until 6 months.” However, what this study revealed was babies who shared a room at 4 months were more likely to have objects in their sleep area that didn’t align with safe sleep environment. Parents were more than 4 times likely to bring the baby into their bed and end up bedsharing if the baby shared a room with them, compared to if the baby slept in their own room. But it’s something the AAP strongly discourages when it comes to a safe sleep environment. So, there might be a trade-off between moving the baby early and safe sleep environment. Ultimately, it’s up to the parents to decide what suits them and their baby best based on their circumstances and knowledge.

But why do babies sleep better in their own room after 4-6 months?

We all wake up between sleep cycles at night. If everything in the environment is as it should be, we may just change position and go back to sleep. The same applies to babies. After 4-6 months, babies become more aware of their environment and the presence of parents in the room might cause them to fully wake up between sleep cycles instead of partly waking, and going back to sleep. This can happen every 1-4 hours, usually more often in the second half of the night as the sleep cycles are shorter at that time.

Sometimes, parents can’t have the baby sleep in a separate room because of their circumstances. If this is the case, it may help to move their crib as far away from your bed as you can and position it so that your baby cannot see you if possible.

What is the best way to move your baby to his own room?

When you have decided to move your baby to their own room, what is the best way to do it?

If your baby is around 6 months old, used to sleeping in their cot, falls asleep quite easily and generally sleeps well, this change is usually very easy for your baby. You can simply move the cot, maintain the sleep routine as you have been, and your baby will likely adjust well. That’s what I did with Jón Sölvi when he was 6 months old, and it didn’t seem to affect him.

If your baby is older or you think that this change might affect them, you can follow these steps:

  1. Play with your baby in their room during the day and create positive memories there.
  2. In the 3 nights leading up to the move, perform the sleep routine in their room but put them to sleep in the parents’ room. This creates positive associations with the baby’s room.
  3. In the 3 nights before the move, move the crib farther from the parents’ bed if possible.
  4. On the fourth night, move the cot to the baby’s room, maintain the sleep routine, and set up the sleep environment the same way as your baby is used to (e.g., darkness, white noise).

These steps aren’t necessary for a successful transition, but I would always recommend step 1. You can then assess what’s best for your baby.

This change can help your baby to sleep better and you might not wake up as often due to noises your baby makes in their sleep. If your baby continues to wake up frequently and you find this more of a hassle than having your baby in your room, you can help them learn to sleep well in their own room. To do this, it’s important to look at your baby’s sleep holistically. This includes sleep environment, daily routine, how they settle to sleep, and what they need during the night to fall back asleep after each sleep cycle.

If you want help, my online courses provide all the information you need to help your child sleep well:

Sleep Tight: 3-12 Months
Sleep Tight: 12-24 Months

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