Co-sleeping with your baby

Co-sleeping is when parents bring their babies into bed with them to sleep.

The safest place for a baby is in their own safe sleep space, we do not recommend co-sleeping however if you do co-sleep it is important for you to know the safest way to do it.

A father sleeping with his child

Co-sleeping can be dangerous and increase the risk of sudden unexpected death in infancy. Therefore, if you choose to co-sleep, it is important to know how to practice co-sleeping more safely, to reduce the risks as much as possible.

Tips for safer co-sleeping:

  • Place your baby on their back to sleep (never on their tummy or side). This helps to protect their airways.
  • Keep baby’s head and face uncovered by keeping pillows and adult bedding away from your baby. Use a safe sleeping bag with no hood with baby’s arms out – don’t wrap or swaddle baby when bed-sharing or co-sleeping.
  • Make sure the mattress is firm and flat. Don’t use a waterbed, or anything soft underneath – for example, a lamb’s wool underlay or pillows. This can increase the risk of overheating and suffocation.
  • Tie up long hair and remove anything else that could be a strangling risk, including all jewellery, teething necklaces and dummy chains
  • Move the bed away from the wall, so baby can’t get trapped between the bed and wall.
  • Make sure your baby can’t fall out of bed. Consider sleeping on your mattress on the floor if it’s possible your baby might roll off the bed
  • Create a clear space for your baby and place your baby on their back to the side of one parent away from the edge, never in the middle of two adults or next to other children or pets as this can increase the risk of overheating and suffocation.

When not to co-sleep:

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

  • You are overly tired or unwell
  • You or your partner have recently consumed 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
  • Baby is premature or small for their gestational age

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 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

Download our Safer Co-sleeping Guide for Parents

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


Last modified: 5/5/22