While it may seem like it’s more for convenience, sharing your room with your infant has more benefits than easy nighttime feedings.
Other Benefits of Room Sharing
Aside from the safety benefits of room sharing, there are myriad emotional and social benefits of being physically close with your newborn. “It allows breast-feeding to be more effective,” Solomonian says. “So, when baby’s in another room and mom doesn’t hear the baby fussing, there’s a bit of a delay in terms of responding to the baby’s needs to nurse.” By being able to feed the infant sooner, parents can teach their child his needs can be met in a timely fashion without needing to scream at the top of his lungs or wail for prolonged periods of time. This can help minimize fussiness and excessive crying.
Aside from breast-feeding benefits, room sharing also helps with “reducing stress because parents are probably getting more sleep, they’re more connected to their babies, and that promotes a lot of those healthy neurotransmitters and hormones in the body as opposed to the stress hormones,” according to Solomonian. In other words, being with your baby can help make you feel closer.
Drawbacks of Room Sharing
Room sharing may seem like the perfect sleeping arrangement, but, realistically, caring for a newborn will force you to adjust certain aspects of your life, and room sharing is no different. Your baby will have different sleeping patterns and bedtime needs than you or your partner. Most newborns sleep between 16 and 17 hours a day, but usually only in 1- to 2-hour increments, according to the AAP. This inevitably makes for an irregular sleeping schedule for parents.
This difference in sleep patterns can result in displacement of popular pre-bedtime activities for parents like reading or watching TV in bed. The light and sound produced can keep the baby awake and disrupt her sleeping pattern, O’Connor says. However, this doesn’t mean your nighttime hobbies are gone for good. “If the parents want to do something that involves lights and noise, they can go somewhere else,” O’Connor says.
For couples who are worried that sharing a room with their baby will impact their relationship in terms of physical intimacy, O’Connor recommends going to another room or dropping your little one off with a babysitter for an evening. Additionally, it’s important to remember that part of parental intimacy is “being kind to each other throughout the day, and offering help, and not being stressed,” Solomonian says. “Intimacy happens in all sorts of ways besides sex.”
Ultimately, there are a lot of ways in which families can manage their bedtime routines and sleeping arrangements, whether that’s moving the baby into the parents’ room or vice versa. “There’s not one way to do it and there’s not one way that must be done (besides being safe),” O’Connor says. “Each family has to do what works best for them.”