As the leading national non-profit organization committed to eliminating Sudden Infant Death Syndrome and other sleep-related infant deaths, we feel it’s important to respond to a new study on room sharing released today.
The new study analyzed surveys from 230 first-time mothers who delivered at Penn State and found that babies slept for longer stretches if they didn’t sleep in the same bedroom as their parents. Research has shown that babies who sleep poorly can have a big impact on parents’ stress and mental health.
While we recognize that every parent desperately needs sleep (we’re parents as well), the Safe Sleep Guidelines developed by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) late last year recommend that parents share a room — but not a bed — with their infants for at least six months and preferably until they reach their first birthday. In fact, room-sharing decreases the risk of SIDS by as much as 50 percent.
What is more concerning that came out of this study is that those babies who shared a room were more likely to be brought into the parents’ bed overnight. They were also more likely to sleep with objects like pillows, blankets and stuffed animals.
About 3,700 babies died from sudden, unexpected causes in 2015, according to the CDC. Risks for SIDS include loose bedding, sleeping in the same bed as parents, sleeping face-down and living at home with a smoker.
Rachel Moon, MD, FAAP, lead author of the AAP’s Safe Sleep guidelines and Medical Director at CJ First Candle explain that more sleep for a baby isn’t necessarily better. “We think that a lot of the problems with SIDS is that babies don’t arouse,” she said, adding that if babies sleep too deeply or for too long, some experts believe this could put them at risk.
The study was also not reflective of the general population. The mothers in the study were overwhelmingly white and wealthier than the average American. The rate of sudden unexpected infant death (SUID) rates by cause (sudden infant death syndrome, unknown cause, and accidental suffocation and strangulation in bed) is twice as high among non-Hispanic Black infant than non-Hispanic White infants.
Learn more here about reducing the risk of SIDS and how you can help CJ First Candle get every baby to their first birthday.