The safest place for your baby to sleep is in their own safe sleeping place, for all sleeps, night and day.
Sharing a sleep surface with your baby can increase the risk of Sudden Unexpected Death in Infancy (SUDI), including Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) and fatal sleep accidents. A considerable proportion of SUDI occur on a shared sleeping surface.
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.
Sometimes, parents may choose to share a sleep surface with their baby due to parenting preferences or cultural beliefs. Other times, it may be due to unavoidable living circumstances.
Sharing a sleep surface with your baby includes bed-sharing and other co-sleeping practices.
- Bed-sharing refers to bringing the baby onto a shared surface where co-sleeping is possible, whether co-sleeping is intended or not.
- Co-sleeping is defined as a parent or caregiver, their partner, the infant’s siblings 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 in some circumstances. This is especially high-risk if:
- The baby is less than three months of age, was born pre-term or was born small for gestational age,
- Parents sharing the sleep surface are smokers
- Parents sharing the sleep surface while under the influence of alcohol, sedating medications, or illicit drugs as they can impair their ability to respond to their baby.
- Parents fall asleep with their baby on a sofa or couch as this can lead to infant death, including deaths attributed to fatal sleeping accidents.
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 on their back before the parent goes to sleep.
If you choose to co-sleep with your baby, it’s important to know how to do it more safely and to understand when not to co-sleep with your baby.
Follow our safer co-sleeping advice to help keep baby safer and reduce the risk of death or injury.
For the detailed Information Statement: Sharing a sleep surface with your baby click here.
Last modified: 8/9/23