Sharing a room for at least the first six months can reduce the risk of SIDS
Among all the risks that exist for newborn babies, one of the most terrifying for parents is SIDS. Now, the American Academy of Pediatrics has released a new report saying that if babies share the same room — not the same bed — as parents for the first six months to a year of life, the risk of SIDS goes down as much as 50%.
Fifty percent. That’s a lot, and it makes this a study worth paying attention to.
SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) is the unexplained death of a healthy baby within their first twelve months, and typically happens while they are sleeping. The vast majority (90%) occur during the first six months. About 25% of the time the cause of death can be attributed to something like strangulation or suffocation, which is why they say to keep stuffed animals and soft bedding out of your baby’s crib. But the rest of the time there is no explanation, which is why every new parent is scared of SIDS and why anything we can do to lessen the risk should be taken seriously.
The report theorizes that, by having the infant in the room with you, you are better able to respond to any distress or sign that something is “off.” Anyone who has shared a room with a baby knows that there make all kinds of noises during the night and we as parents are alert to every single one of them. While it might disturb your sleep a bit more, the ability to raise your head, take a look, and make sure your baby is okay is more than worth it.
Fifty percent. We can’t get over that.
It’s important to note that the AAP explicitly says not to share a bed with your baby. Co-sleeping has long been viewed as unsafe for babies due to the risk of suffocation. Now, there are a lot of people who would argue with that and who believe strongly in co-sleeping, but they are not members of the AAP. They also advise against putting your baby to sleep on a sofa or any other soft surface. Instead, you should put your baby in some kind of crib-like area — an actual crib, for example, seems like an ideal choice. But there are also co-sleepers and “by your side sleepers” you can use to keep your baby close to you at night while also keeping them safe.
Cases of SIDS have gone down quite a bit since the 1990s, when safe sleep campaigns began. But there are still approximately 3,500 babies who die from SIDS every year, and that is 3,500 too many. If sharing a room with your baby can cut their risk in half — that’s a pretty amazing endorsement for sharing a room for a while.