New study suggests infants with their own rooms sleep longer

Special Report: Sleeping beside your baby is not safe, health experts say »

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — The sooner babies get their own rooms, the longer they’ll sleep, according to a new study from the American Academy of Pediatrics.

The study found that babies slept for longer stretches if they didn’t sleep in the same bedroom as their parents.

The study surveyed more than 200 first-time mothers at Penn State.

At four months, babies who slept alone had the longest stretches of uninterrupted sleep by about 45 minutes on average. At nine months, babies in their own rooms slept 40 minutes longer at night and more than 20 minutes longer overall than those sharing a room with their parents.

Researchers said the primary difference is actually what parents do when a baby wakes up in the middle of the night.

Special Report: Sleeping beside your baby is not safe, health experts say »

According to the study, parents sharing a room with a 4-month-old infant were four times as likely to bring their baby into their bed overnight than those with independent sleepers. Similarly, at nine months of age, room-sharing parents were still just as likely to bring their baby into their bed after waking up.

The dangers of co-sleeping hit close to home in Rhode Island back in February, when 7-month-old Willow Beeley of Warwick was found unresponsive inside her home. In May, the Department of Health announced the medical examiner had found Willow’s cause of death to be “asphyxia due to overlay,” meaning someone rolled onto her during her sleep.

Researchers in this study said it’s important to balance this new information with safe infant sleep, noting that most Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) deaths occur within the first four months of a child’s life, which is why the American Academy of Pediatrics previously recommended sharing a room with your child until the age of one.

Before making any changes to sleep behavior, parents should check with their pediatricians.