Why Babies Benefit from Sleeping in Separate Beds?
As the sun filtered through the windows in the early morning, I quietly tiptoed into my baby’s room to check on her. She was sound asleep in her crib, little arms stretched up by her head and knees tucked close to her chest. It never ceases to amaze me how peaceful she looks in those moments before waking for the day.
While it can be tempting for new parents to have their little one snuggled close in bed, experience has shown me the benefits of my baby having her own space to sleep. From the very first night, she settled into her crib calmly without fussing. Now months later, those habits have stuck, allowing her—and my husband and I—to rest easily through the night.
If you're interested in learning more about the benefits of babies sleeping separately from parents, I invite you to take some time over a cup of coffee to read through this entire article.
Why babies shouldn’t sleep in the same bed with their mothers?
Here are some key reasons why babies should not sleep in the same bed as their mothers.
Risk of SIDS
Co-sleeping dramatically increases the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). Babies are at higher danger of accidental suffocation or strangulation if they sleep in the same bed as parents who may roll over onto them or whose blankets/pillows could obstruct their breathing.
Delay independent sleep
Sharing a bed from early on can delay a baby's ability to self-soothe and fall asleep alone. They may become overly dependent on being nursed or rocked back to sleep each time they wake at night. Having their own space helps babies develop important sleep skills.
Disrupt parental sleep quality
Co-sleeping often leads to disrupted sleep for mothers and partners as babies move around or nurse throughout the night. This can cause fatigue and even postpartum depression. Separate sleeping allows for better rest for the whole family.
Less freedom of movement
If baby sleeps in the same bed with mother, baby will have less freedom of movement. On the other hand, if in a crib or bassinet, babies have more freedom of movement without disturbance which supports motor development. Their own space also helps regulate circadian rhythms critical for cognitive and behavioral functioning.
If babies get used to falling asleep while being held or fed, they may struggle to adapt to being put in a crib drowsy but awake as recommended. It's also harder for co-sleeping babies to later move to their own room or bed.
While occasional co-sleeping may provide comfort, establishing good sleep habits and prioritizing baby's safety is best done through independent sleeping arrangements from the beginning. This allows for optimal physical, emotional and cognitive maturation.
What are the benefits for babies to sleep in their own bed?
Improved Safety - A crib/bassinet is the safest place for a baby to sleep as it reduces the risk of SIDS, suffocation or fall injuries that may occur in an adult bed.
Better Sleep - Babies can learn to self-soothe and sleep through the night more easily when sleeping alone. This results in less disruptions.
Independence - By sleeping separately, babies gain independence and confidence in their ability to fall asleep on their own without dependency on caregivers.
Promotes Healthy Development - Independent sleep allows freedom of movement to develop motor skills and aids healthy neurological and circadian development.
Parental Rest - Separate sleep prevents babies from disturbing parents by crying or co-sleeping risks. This allows parents to recharge.
Easier Transitioning - Babies are more likely to transition smoothly to a crib, toddler bed or their own room when already used to alone sleeping.
Routines & Habits - A consistent sleep space and routine helps regulate babies' sleep-wake cycles early on for lifelong habits.
Growth Needs - As they grow, babies have changing sleep needs that are best met with their own private space.
Establishing independent sleep from birth promotes infant safety, development and the entire family's well-being.
Why should babies and mothers sleep in separate beds rather than separate rooms?
There are some key differences between having a baby sleep in a separate bed in the same room versus a separate room.
Safety - For young infants, the current safe sleep guidelines recommend room-sharing on the same surface, which is easier to do with a separate bed in the room rather than another room. This allows caregivers to keep a close eye and bond with their baby while reducing the risk of SIDS.
Accessibility - With a crib or bassinet beside the parents' bed, it's easy to soothe and feed the baby when they stir without disturbing too much. Moving between rooms risks missing subtle cues that could wake the baby.
Transitions - Graduating to a separate room is a bigger change from the infant's perspective. Starting in the same room allows for smoother adjustment to independent sleep as they get older before moving out of eyesight.
Night waking support - Room-sharing makes it simpler to respond quickly to late-night needs through early infancy when waking may still be frequent. Separate rooms could delay self-soothing.
Night comfort - Young babies often want visual or physical contact with caregivers for security. Being near without disturbing parents provides that reassurance which also promotes bonding.
Daytime sleeping - Multitasking is possible by keeping the baby in the same room for quick naps while parents see to chores rather than toting between rooms.
Separate beds in the initial months optimally balance safety proximity, sleep needs and gradual independence compared to jumping straight to a different room. It eases the transition to solo sleep better.
How do you teach a baby to sleep in their own bed?
Choose the bed
Pick a firm, flat mattress with a fitted sheet in a crib or bassinet. Make sure it meets safety standards.
Prepare the space
Keep the area simple with just the bed, breathing monitor if using one. No toys or extras that could distract from sleeping.
Set the routine
Establish a pre-bedtime routine like bath, book, bottle that signals it's time to wind down. Do the same activities in the same order each night.
Incorporate calming methods like gentle back rubbing, soft music or white noise to help baby relax both mentally and physically. Keep lights low during routine.
Lay them down drowsy
Watch for sleepy cues like rubbing eyes, fussing or yawning to judge when drowsiness starts. Never put baby down fully asleep.
Lay baby gently in crib while still awake but drowsy. This helps them learn to fall asleep without assistance.
Start with laying down when drowsy but avoid rocking or feeding to sleep as that can interfere with independent sleep learning.
Remain in the room after laying down so baby knows you're close by for comfort if needed.
Reassure with soothing voice or pats without picking up if they fuss to avoid creating dependency.
If crying escalates, keep interventions brief like patting back before leaving again.
Stick to the same calming routine and rules every night without fail. Babies crave consistency.
Persist even if crying occurs initially as they adjust. Giving in risks delayed learning.
Limit daytime sleep
Gradually reduce nap times in afternoon/evening to help consolidate night sleep.
Overtired babies have harder time self-soothing at bedtime.
Celebrate with smiles and praise each morning after successful solo sleep.
Positive feedback motivates continuing good habits.
Change comes gradually through consistent practice. Adjust approach as baby's needs change.
Highly upset babies may need revising plan - seek advice for improvement.
When can a baby sleep in their own room?
Here are some general guidelines for when babies can sleep in their own room.
For the first 6 months, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends room-sharing without bed-sharing - having a baby sleep in the same room as parents but in a separate crib or bassinet. This reduces the risks of SIDS.
Around 6 months, once a baby is regularly sleeping through the night (5-6 hours continuously), it's usually fine for them to transition to a separate room. However, continue monitoring with a baby monitor.
Physically, most babies are developmentally ready for a separate room once they can roll from back to front and front to back, and push up on their arms when lying on their tummy. This is usually around 5-6 months.
Consider waiting longer if breastfeeding at night, as more frequent night feedings may be needed. Weaning from night feedings first makes the transition easier.
Consider your baby's sleep patterns and personality. Some wake more at night and may need reassurance of a parent nearby for longer. Others transition smoothly.
Make the move gradual, starting with naps in their room first before full nights. This helps them adjust to the new space.
Use a high-quality baby monitor in the new room for continual monitoring and reassurance during the transition.
Most babies are ready between 5-6 months, but every baby develops differently. Go at your baby's pace for the best adjustment. Always maintain safe sleep practices.
An expert in sleep sack design, is a valued contributor to Kaiya Angel's blog. With a strong background in baby sleep bags and maternal care, she is highly regarded for her professionalism. Yujia Shi prioritizes baby comfort and safety in her designs, using high-quality materials. Her insightful articles on sleep bags have been featured in reputable publications and have gained a significant readership. Trust Yujia Shi to help you create a comfortable and safe sleep environment for your baby, backed by her proven track record in the industry.