A Calgary expert on baby sleep says she is worried by a new recommendation from an American professional association of pediatricians.
The American Academy of Pediatrics updated its guidelines Monday to encourage parents to share rooms with babies in separate, firm beds for a full year – or at the very least, six months.
The change is associated with a reduced risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) by as much as 50 per cent.
But Carrie Bruno, who owns The Mama Coach in Calgary, says that may not be practical or possible for some mothers.
“I am concerned because there is a certain demographic of moms who just can’t sleep with their babies in the room,” Bruno, who is also a registered nurse and lactation consultant, said.
The Canadian Paediatric Society still recommends roomsharing for six months, as does the Public Health Agency of Canada.
But Bruno says Canadian health guidelines often eventually change to follow the U.S.
She worries the American recommendation could make some Canadian families feel guilty about their choices and could leave the whole family feeling exhausted.
“(It could lead to a) lack of being able to parent all day long … it can even contribute and worsen post-partum depression,” Bruno said.
The Sedlacek family wanted to keep their seven-month-old son, Matteo, sleeping in a crib in their room.
They tried many strategies to help him return to sleep during the night, but he kept waking every three hours, even after he stopped nursing during the night.
The couple said after six straight months, exhaustion was hurting their relationship with each other and their ability to parent.
So they took Bruno’s advice and built a wall so Matteo would have his own sleep space in their one-bedroom condo.
He slept from bedtime to morning on the very first night.
“One day made a huge difference – and after a week, we’ve noticed a world of a difference,” Nayely Sedlacek said. “I’m functioning better and as a family unit, we’re all happier.”
Her husband believes parents have to do what’s best for a family as a whole, as long as it’s not harmful to the baby and won’t cause any suffering.
“A year down the road, if we didn’t do something for his sleep, there would be a real (struggle to) parent, because we wouldn’t be able to function,” Nathan Sedlacek said.
Bruno said around the age of six months, room-sharing babies tend to become more aware of their parents nearby when they wake between sleep cycles.
Even a curtain hung safely on a coat rack can help create visual separation within a room.