If you check the generations within your own family, then you will see that moms prefer to have their newborns sleep next to them. Then again, the internet is full of campaigns like “Babies sleep safest alone”. This was a recent public interest slogan that came out to prevent any accidental smothering or SIDS. Of course, you must have also read that it is a good idea to let newborns sleep alone because they turn out to be more independent?
For a new mom, these contradicting theories can be quite confusing. After all, you want to do what is best for your little one. So, which one is correct? Should newborns sleep alone or with their mothers?
What the theories say
There have been several studies to understand which one is better for you baby; is it a good idea to let newborns sleep alone or should the newborn sleep
One such study was conducted on newborns who were delivered through a C-section. For one session, the babies were made to sleep next to their mothers, swaddled in a blanket. Then, they were made to sleep on their mother’s chest with skin to skin contact for the next session. The last session had the babies sleep alone in a bassinet.
The three sleep patterns were compared and drastic differences were observed. The babies that slept on their own showed increased autonomic activity. This means that their nervous system was more alert. This, in turn, means that the babies were unable to get enough REM sleep.
It was believed that the babies were warmer when they slept next to their mother’s. However, higher body temperature means higher autonomic activity, too. So, it was concluded that babies found more comfort when sleeping next to their mothers. Therefore it is a good idea to let newborns sleep alone.
There were several tests conducted on babies that were made to sleep in an incubator as well. It was observed that in half the babies that slept on their own, cardiovascular stability was very low. So, perhaps, in this case, it isn't a good idea to let newborns sleep alone.
In conclusion, if you are wondering should newborns sleep alone or not, all these tests suggested that it is never a good idea to separate the baby from its mother while sleeping.
Throughout history, it is common to have babies sleep next to their mothers. It has also been seen that, in case the mother is unable to sleep next to the baby because she is unwell or for any other reason, the father or any other adult sleeps next to the child. This is a common practice and is suggested that it be followed even today.
Also read: Tips To Make Baby Sleep Soundly
Is it safe and a good idea to let newborns sleep alone?
The biggest concern for most new moms is safety. Is it safe to have your baby next to you when you are asleep too? Are there chances that you would smother or crush your child accidentally?
There are a few things that you should keep in mind when you sleep next to your baby:
- It is good to avoid sleeping next to the baby if you are extremely fatigued.
- Do not sleep next to your baby if you are intoxicated or are under heavy medication.
- Never fall asleep with the baby on your chest.
- Do not sleep with your baby on a chair, a sofa or any surface where the bedding is loose.
Instead, it is a good idea to have a crib next to your bed, as is quite common in Japanese practice to ensure that your baby is safe.
Also read: 10 Easy Tips to make your baby sleep through the night
Keeping your baby in your room
As mentioned above, a separate crib next to your bed is the best option. You can swaddle your baby and allow them to sleep on your chest until they are asleep. While you do this, you can play some soft music or sing a lullaby.
When you notice that your baby is about to doze off, you can shift him or her to the crib and wait until they are fast asleep. You will notice that the baby will actually gurgle, almost like he or she is singing to himself or herself to fall asleep.
Only when you are sure that your baby is soundly sleeping, should you get some sleep yourself. It is a good idea to let newborns sleep alone in a separate crib as it will not only give your baby good sleep but will also allow you to be better rested.
Also read: Baby Sleep Dos and Don’ts
When should newborns sleep alone?
The next question is when should newborns sleep alone? Until the age of 4 months, babies tend to wake up more readily. This puts the child at lesser risk of SIDs (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) at this age.
As your baby grows, you will notice that he or she tends to sleep more deeply. By the 6th month, the baby may even start snoring when he or she is asleep. This is when you can put the baby to sleep in a separate crib as they are less likely to wake up quickly.
If you want to let your baby sleep in his or her own room, you can start after the age of 4 months. Start with a few short naps at a younger age, of a maximum of 40 minutes. Follow the same steps mentioned above to get your baby to fall asleep. And then leave the room. By the time the baby is 9-12 months of age, you should be able to leave them in their own room overnight, provided that you have a safe crib. You can also have a baby monitor to make sure that you can hear your baby if he or she wakes up.
Also read:Baby Sleep Timeline – Newborn to 12 months
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