Cosleeping with your baby

Your baby should always sleep in a safe sleeping environment, which is most often safest in a safe cot with safe bedding.

Some parents choose to bring baby into bed with them – this is known as co-sleeping or bed sharing.

There are some circumstances where co-sleeping with your baby can be dangerous. If you choose to co-sleep, it’s important to know how to do it more safely and to understand when not to sleep.

Read our advice below on how to do it more safely to reduce the risk of sudden infant death and sleeping accidents.

A father sleeping with his child

Tips for safer co-sleeping:

Follow these tips for safer co-sleeping:

  • Always place baby on their back to sleep – never on their tummy or side
  • Make sure baby’s face and head remain uncovered
  • Make sure the mattress is firm and flat – not elevated or tilted
  • Make sure your bedding and sheets can’t cover baby’s face
  • Keep pillows and adult bedding away from baby
  • Make sure baby can’t fall off the bed– you can also put the adult mattress on the floor to help reduce the risk of baby being injured from falling off the bed.
  • Place baby to the side of one parent – never in the middle of two adults, or next to other children or pets
  • Move the bed away from the wall – so baby can’t get trapped between the bed and the wall
  • Use a safe sleeping bag with no hood but with a fitted neck and armholes – don’t wrap or swaddle baby
  • Tie up long hair, remove all jewellery and remove teething necklaces – so they can’t strangle baby.

When not to co-sleep:

You should never co-sleep or lie down holding baby if:

  • You are overly tired or feel unwell
  • You or your partner have recently drunk alcohol
  • You or your partner smoke, even if you don’t smoke in the bedroom
  • You or your partner have taken any drugs that make you feel sleepy or less aware – this includes drugs with a prescription
  • Baby is unwell, was premature or is small for their gestational age.

When you are overly tired, unwell or have taken alcohol or drugs that make you drowsy (including both drugs from the chemist and recreational drugs), you are less likely to wake up if there is a problem – which is why co-sleeping is very dangerous in these circumstances.

Babies who are sick, premature or small for their gestational age have a higher risk of sudden unexpected death, and co-sleeping adds to this higher risk.

Falling asleep holding baby on a couch or chair is always unsafe – move yourself and baby to a safe sleep environment if you think you might fall asleep.

Our tips for safe sleeping:

The Red Nose Six Safe Sleep Recommendations are based on many years of research and are evidence-based to reduce your risk of sudden infant death and other sleep accidents.

If you choose to co-sleep with your baby, it is important to consider this advice and to follow our tips for safer co-sleeping.

Every family is unique, and every baby is unique – so you need to make the decision that is right for you and your family. Red Nose is here to support you on your parenting journey.

Always follow the Red Nose six safe sleep recommendations:

  1. Always place baby on their back to sleep
  2. Keep baby’s face and head uncovered
  3. Keep baby smoke free, before and after birth
  4. Safe sleeping environment, day and night
  5. Sleep baby in parents’ room in a safe cot
  6. Breastfeed baby

More information

Call our Safe Sleep Advice Line on 1300 998 698 (during business hours)
or email
education@rednose.org.au


Last modified: 7/1/21