I often get asked by parents if it is ok to move their baby into their own room before they are 6 months old because they are finding it difficult to sleep due to the snuffles, grunts and groans that their baby is making. I’m sure this is a question that resonates with all of us. Laying there in the night pondering what is causing your baby’s discomfort? And out of desperation spending and arm and leg on all the over the counter remedies – Colic Calm, Gripe Water, Infacol or taking the advice ‘just give him a teaspoon of water,’ and the self-doubt must be because I’m not burping him properly.
The truth of the matter is that your baby makes these noises 24/7 but at night it’s more obvious because it’s an environment that is dark and quiet when everyone is typically asleep! These noises are normal new-born noises. Babies have sensitive digestive systems and are nose breathers because they have large tongue that is needed for breastfeeding. Their nasal passages are narrow and even more surprisingly it is normal for new-born babies to aspirate small quantities occasionally without causing any harm (Nikki Mills ENT specialist – Symposium conference April 2018).
If sleeping your noisy baby in the same room as you is keeping you awake it’s because they’re supposed to! While you partner is (frustratingly) sound asleep and snoring away you are disturbed every couple of hours. I’m sure this is how the term ‘lucky you’re cute’ gets overused – not the partner the baby. Mother-baby synchrony is an important protective mechanism that reduces the risk of SUDI. It goes a bit like this – baby grunts, mum wakes and checks on her baby, baby goes back to sleep, baby farts, mum wakes and checks on her baby, baby goes back to sleep, baby cries, mum wakes and feeds baby, baby goes back to sleep, baby coughs, mum wakes and picks up her baby, baby immediately falls back to sleep. REPEAT.
So the answer to the original question is ‘no’ I would not recommend moving your baby out of your room before 6 months. Your baby needs to be in close proximity to you! And none of those over the counter remedies will help your baby sleep any better.
As your baby matures your baby will sleep more soundly and you will only wake to noises that alert your instincts to a genuine need from your baby and that might just be a cuddle. After 6 months the risk of SUDI dramatically reduces and is a good time to consider letting baby sleep in their own room if that is what you choose.
Noisy breathing closer to a year of age is abnormal and you should discuss this with a health professional. The Baby Sleep Practitioners was founded by myself and a nursing colleague due the concern of the unregulated baby sleep industry. The case study below highlights one example I have come across in my practice that could have ended sadly if given baby sleep advice from someone without a medical background.
Charlie is a 1 year old and mum has been using cued care. Charlie is now on a baby led routine of 2 naps per day of 1-1.5hrs durations. Charlie is eating 3 solids meals per day and feeds herself.
Mum has taken Charlie to an allergy specialist due to excessive spilling – results were NAD (Nothing Abnormal Detected). Charlie is now a specialised formula as well as Gaviscon and tolerating this well.
Charlie is waking up very often in the night but very inconsistently. The worst nights are every 20-45mins. Mum has a responsive parenting style and is beginning to question herself that she has created bad habits by rocking Charlie to sleep and is considering spaced settling.
After a one hour discussion with mum I referred her to her GP due to symptoms of noisy breathing and possible obstructive apnoea. This was a good outcome for mum and baby as Charlie was referred urgently by her GP to an ENT specialist to have her tonsils and adenoids removed. I hate to think what might have eventuated if mum have not trusted her instructs and responded and comforted her little girl or if she was advised that Charlie was ‘trying it on’ and was told it was ok to leave her to cry!
Amy and Elspeth