new baby

Four Reasons to Room-In

By Heather Winesett, MD, FAAP, ABIHM, IBCLC St. Luke’s Pediatric Associates

So you decided on a paint color for the nursery, but there’s still so much to do to get this room ready for baby. Don’t worry—if the nursery isn’t 100% ready when baby arrives, it’s not a big deal. Based on the positive benefits of rooming-in, you may want baby in your own room for a while anyway.

“Rooming-in” is when your baby stays with you instead of in the hospital’s nursery, or in their own nursery once they go home. I recommend rooming-in to new parents for a variety of reasons. These are my top four reasons to embrace this right after delivery and beyond.

1. Content and Confident.

Babies do better when they’re close to people they recognize. Because baby is near, they get to know their parents’ smells and voices, and actually listen for their parents’ heart rates and breathing. Babies who room-in cry less and are easier to calm. Parents experience increased confidence in caring for their new baby and are more relaxed by the end of the first week at home.

2. Sleep better.

It may sound counterintuitive, but studies have shown that parents who room-in sleep better than parents who don’t. Your baby will develop a more regular sleep/wake cycle earlier, and rooming-in may help ease the transition to day/night routines. With a separate, safe sleep area for baby, parents can sleep well, and close by.

3. Learning behaviors.

One of the biggest reasons to try rooming-in is because it helps new parents get to know babies and their signals. Newborns cycle through sleep and hunger states rapidly. If you’re not with your baby, it’s harder to recognize those early feeding cues.

For breastfeeding moms, rooming-in can lead to both a better milk supply and better feeding sessions. Feeding cues and frequent feeding sessions while rooming-in gives both mom and baby a chance to practice with help, which means you’ll get off to a better start for when you go home.

4. Feel the connection.

Attachment and bonding is important for all infants and parents. The more time spent with baby, the easier it is to feel confident in your parenting and know what your baby needs. If you understand what to watch for, you’re probably going to respond better, which calms the baby sooner and makes you feel happier overall. This may also help decrease the likelihood of experiencing “baby blues” and postpartum depression.

Parents have been rooming-in for thousands and thousands of years. The big key is knowing you can do this, and to ask the nurses and hospital staff for help as needed.

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