Mother-Infant Bed Sharing in Clinical Settings

Red Nose supports midwives and is saddened to hear of the recent death of a baby at Fiona Stanley Hospital in Perth.


Red Nose recommends that the safest place for baby is their own safe sleep environment (ie. cot) at the bedside.

We also recognise that shared sleeping with baby occurs in clinical setting for a variety of reasons including for post-operative patients and for women after a difficult vaginal birth.

However, sharing a sleep space may increase the risk of SUDI in some circumstances.

When deciding whether it is appropriate for your patient to share a sleep surface with baby, Red Nose recommends that midwives undertake a risk assessment to identify the factors that make baby more vulnerable to SUDI.

These include:

  • Prematurity
  • Small for gestation age
  • Illness or infection
  • Maternal sedation
  • Antenatal and postnatal exposure to smoking
  • Parental drug (prescribed or illicit) or alcohol use
  • Soft sleep surface
  • Obesity
  • Congenital abnormality.

Midwives are in a unique position to influence the behaviour of parents and care givers, by modelling safe sleep practices in hospital, and helping parents to make informed decisions.

For more information on strategies to reduce risk associated with shared sleep environments, see our Information Statement ‘Sharing Sleep with Your Baby’.

Last modified: 8/4/19