Medical

Babies who sleep alone by 4 months may sleep longer, study finds

Babies who sleep alone by 4 months may sleep longer, study finds”

The result challenged the American Academy of Pediatrics' (AAP) recommendations for parents to keep babies in the same room with them to sleep for the first year to prevent sudden death of their children.

According to NPR, Paul says the risk of a baby dying from SIDS after 6 months of age is "exceedingly rare", while the "risks from inadequate sleep in parents may be more serious, such as motor vehicle accidents, poorer bonding with their baby, marital strain and child abuse such as abusive head trauma (shaken baby syndrome)".

The differences between the groups went beyond how long babies slept: Infants who slept in a room alone were also more likely to have a consistent bedtime routine, and they were more likely to go to bed by 8 p.m. Infants 4 to 12 months should sleep 12 to 16 hours per day, including naps, while newborns may sleep much longer, the American Academy of Pediatrics says. He should sleep in his own crib or bassinet (or in a co-sleeper safely attached to the bed), but shouldn't be in his own room until he is at least 6 months, better 12 months. Prior to that, guidelines recommended moving babies to their own rooms by six months old. According to Dr. Paul, this recommendation of 6 months was not based on research but was an "expert opinion".

Overnight sleep duration was similar at age 4 months among room-sharers and independent sleepers, but the longest single sleep period for early independent sleepers (own room 4 months) was 46 minutes longer (P=.02) than room-sharing infants, reported Ian M. Paul, MD, MSc, of Penn State College of Medicine, and colleagues. Also, those who slept on their own at 9 months slept 45 minutes more a night at the age of 30 months compared to other babies, the study found.

At 30 months, babies who had room-shared at nine months slept, on average, 45 minutes less per night than those who were independent sleepers at four and nine months. She said that they believe a lot of the problems with SIDS is that babies don't arouse and that experts have suggested that if babies sleep for too long or too deeply, this may put them at risk.

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As was pointed out in a commentary accompanying the study, early "sleep consolidation", or sleeping many hours at once, isn't necessarily a good thing.

"This is important information", said Dr. Rachel Moon, a professor of pediatrics at the University of Virginia who co-authored the American Academy of Pediatrics' latest recommendation.

Paul added,"Inadequate infant sleep can lead to obesity, poor sleep later in life and can negatively affect parents". This could lower the risk of SIDS said the AAP. About 11 percent of babies, however, were still room-sharing at nine months.

How long babies slept was also different. Additional support was received from the Children's Miracle Network at Penn State Children's Hospital, U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the National Institutes of Health/National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences. She said the mothers in the study were overwhelmingly white and wealthier than the average woman in the United States. She also said that this new study focused on a sample "not terribly diverse in terms of socioeconomic or racial diversity", and might not accurately represent the entire population. As much as it can feel like an eternity of being woken at night, the fact is that over time, most babies learn to sleep through the night and give their parents a break.

The study appears online June 5 in the journal Pediatrics.



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