Red Nose does not recommend that you share a sleep surface with baby, also known as co-sleeping. This is because it can increase the risk of sudden unexpected death.
The safest place to sleep baby is in their own safe cot in their parents’ room.
However we know that many parents choose to co-sleep, while others may unintentionally fall asleep when holding baby during feedings or when they’re comforting baby.
Read our advice on how to do it more safely, to reduce your risk.
Our co-sleeping advice
To reduce the risk of sudden unexpected death, always follow the Red Nose six safe sleep recommendations:
- Sleep baby on back
- Keep head and face uncovered
- Keep baby smoke free, before and after birth
- Safe sleeping environment, day and night
- Sleep baby in parents’ room in a safe cot
- Breastfeed baby
Tips for safer bed-sharing
Co-sleeping or falling asleep with baby can increase the risk of sudden unexpected death, but there are some things you can do to make it safer for you and baby.
If you are sharing a sleep surface or think you might fall asleep while holding baby, follow these tips:
- Place baby on their back to sleep – never on their side or tummy
- Make sure the mattress is clean and firm
- 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.
- Make sure your bedding and sheets can’t cover baby’s face
- 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
- Dress baby in a safe sleepsuit 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
Co-sleeping or falling asleep with baby can increase the risk of sudden unexpected death.
We know that many parents do choose to do it, but there are some situations when you should never do it.
Don’t share a bed 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
- 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.
Although Red Nose does not recommend co-sleeping, we understand that many parents choose to do it.
When deciding whether co-sleeping is the right decision for you and 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. There is no parenting rulebook, just facts and Red Nose is here to support you on your parenting journey.
Call our Safe Sleep Advice Line on 1300 998 698 (during business hours) or email email@example.com
Last modified: 12/7/19