The safest place for your baby to sleep is in their own safe sleeping place, for all sleeps night and day.
Red Nose recommends sleeping baby in a cot next to the parents’ bed for the first six to twelve months, as this has been shown to lower the risk of sudden infant death.
Sharing a sleep surface with your baby – also known as co-sleeping or bed sharing – can increase the risk SIDS and fatal sleep accidents in some circumstances.
If you choose to co-sleep, it’s important to know how to do it more safely and to understand when not to sleep.
- There is much debate in the literature about the practice of, and definitions for, bed-sharing and co-sleeping. For the purpose of this statement the term ‘sharing a sleep surface’ is used to include bed-sharing and co-sleeping practices. Bed-sharing refers to bringing the baby onto a sleep surface where co-sleeping is possible, whether intended or not. Co-sleeping is defined as a mother and/or her partner (or any other person) being asleep on the same sleep surface as the baby.
- Sharing a sleep surface with a baby can increase the risk of SUDI. A considerable proportion of SUDI occur on a shared sleeping surface.
- Babies most at risk of SUDI when sharing a sleep surface are those less than 3 months postnatal age, babies who were born preterm or small for gestational age.
- The risks are always much greater if parents smoke or are under the influence of alcohol or drugs (prescription or illegal) that cause sedation and impair their ability to respond to their baby.
- There is a very high risk of infant death, including deaths attributed to fatal sleeping accidents, when a baby shares a sofa or couch with an adult during sleep.
- There is no increased risk of SUDI whilst sharing a sleep surface with a baby during feeding, cuddling and playing providing that the baby is returned to a cot or their own safe sleeping surface before the parent goes to sleep.
- Sharing a sleep surface with a baby is a complex issue that encompasses many factors. Strategies can be used to reduce the risk in circumstances where parents share a sleep surface with a baby due to parenting preferences, cultural beliefs or unavoidable living circumstances, including instances where a parent may unintentionally fall asleep with a baby.
Some parents do choose with co-sleep or bring baby to bed with them. If you choose to cosleep or bring baby to bed with you, Red Nose recommends following our safer cosleeping advice to help keep baby safe and reduce the risk of death or injury.
Last modified: 7/1/21