When should you move your baby to their own room? This is a question that most parents probably ask themselves as they welcome their bundle of joy into the world. It’s a topic that doesn’t come up as often as it should as many friends and family will reassure you saying it makes no difference, but the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) believes it does make a difference. Babies tend to get less sleep at night and for smaller amounts of time sleeping in their parent’s rooms around 4 months old, which can increase parents engaging in unsafe sleeping practices. Now that your baby is getting a little older, you might be considering moving them into their own room. You can wait until your baby is 12 months old before you transition him to the crib. If you are ready to move baby sooner than that, here are some things to keep in mind to ensure the transition goes as smoothly as possible.
Reduce the Risk of SIDS
Sudden infant death is typically an unexplained death usually during sleep for infants under a year old. While there is no clear cause of SIDS it can be associated with birth defects in an infant’s brain. There is no way to fully prevent (SIDS) but you can reduce the risks by following these safe sleeping practices:
- Babies should always be positioned on their backs whenever they are sleeping. Whether you or a sitter is putting the child to sleep, always advise placing your baby on his or her back.
- Have your child sleep in your room for the first few months. Your baby should sleep in the same room as you but alone in a crib or bassinet. Side sleeping with your child is not recommended or advised.
- Breastfeeding if possible. Breastfeeding for six months can help reduce the risk of SIDS.
Creating a consistent bedtime routine is one of the most important things you can do to prepare your baby for moving to their own room. A bedtime routine is a set of consistent actions, rituals, or events that take place in the hour leading up to bedtime. It may include a bath, book reading, and rocking your baby. It can help your baby fall asleep faster and stay asleep. Keeping this consistent while they are still room sharing will make all the difference when carrying this routine over to their nursery. You can also start incorporating the bedtime routine into nap time if you aren’t ready to make that big of a jump yet. Make sure you child is comfortable with their own room before they start sleeping there alone. During the day get your baby used to playing on the floor in their nursery so they can recognize this room as their own!
You can also offer a pacifier without a strap or clip at the start of bedtime and nap time. However, it is recommended that you wait until your infant is three to four weeks before introducing a pacifier into nighttime routines. Some parents may want to introduce white noise into their baby’s sleep routine when they start sleeping alone. Some white noise machines can even mimic the heartbeat of a mother and help block out other noisy distractions in your home. This can be a temporary solution but may not work for all infants. When starting the routine catered to your baby, another small step to take is moving them further and further away from you while still room sharing. Try moving them a few feet away over the course for 4-6 days before finally moving them to their own room.
Sleeping in a Crib
It is important that your baby’s bedroom is set up for safe sleeping. This means a crib with a firm mattress, a fitted sheet, and no bumpers, toys, or blankets. When your child is sleeping in their crib or bassinet try to keep it as minimal as possible. Avoid thick blankets or quilts. Don’t leave pillows, fluffy toys, or stuffed animals in the crib as these can interfere with your baby’s breathing. If you are worried about your child being cold without these items in their crib try a baby swaddle or sleep sack to keep them warm without additional covers. Not only does the crib need to have minimal risk, so does the area around the crib. You want to make certain your infant cannot reach any cords or curtains on the outside of their crib. These suggestions are recommended for both room sharing and when your child moves to their own room.
Moving Your Baby
While it is more recently recommended to stop room sharing after 4 months because babies tend to get less sleep when room sharing at this age, you can definitely be slower to the process if needed. Actually, the APP recommends room sharing for 6 to 12 months. Most parents have a crib next to their bed in the early weeks due to feeding so frequently in the night. Start making slow transitions with your infant to get them suited to sleep on their own as quickly or slow as you want. You may also want to consider your sleep and work schedule when making this change. The decision to move your baby to their own room is truly based on your frame of mind, there are no indicators that your baby is truly “ready”. Again, there is no right or wrong way to move your baby to their own room. Figure out what works for your baby and family.