Accidental Co-Sleeping - reduce your risk

While Red Nose doesn’t recommend sharing a sleep surface with your baby, we do understand that being a new parent is challenging, and that unintentionally falling asleep while holding, feeding, or comforting your baby occasionally does happen.

So what can you do to minimise your risk of accidental co-sleeping?

Jane Wiggill nephew
We love this picture of Jane with her nephew at 1am - while her sister-in-law caught up on some much-needed rest!

Being aware that this may happen to you, and doing what you need to do to reduce this risk ahead of time can help, advises Red Nose Chief Midwife Jane Wiggill.

“Babies, as beautiful as they are, need lots of time and attention and this can become extremely tiring for parents,” she advises.

“We understand the practical needs of parents to get some sleep, especially if you are up at 2am and very fatigued.

“If you feel yourself falling asleep, it’s very important to move yourself and your baby into a safe sleep environment, such as a cot.”

And, Jane says, remember that fatigue can come on very quickly.

“If there is a risk that you may fall asleep in your bed with your baby, make sure baby is on its back, not wrapped and that there is no excessive bedding, or soft blankets and pillows in your bed.

“You can also make sure that you have a firm mattress and that your bed is not next to a wall, as there is a risk of entrapment.”

And, Jane says, don’t panic if you wake up and find that you have fallen asleep with your baby.

“If you find you have fallen asleep, check your baby first, and then move your baby back into their own safe sleep environment.”

And, importantly, give yourself a break.

“You are doing a beautiful job as a parent,” Jane says.

“And everyone around you knows you are doing the best you can, so don’t be afraid to ask for help from your support network.

“Just like we make sure we are safe on the road by taking rest breaks when driving long distances, we also need to make sure we take rest breaks while parenting.

“It will help keep you and your baby safe.

“So schedule in some sleep for yourself, and ask a friend or family member to look after your baby for you.

“Everyone loves baby cuddles.”

And remember, Red Nose’s advice for safer bed-sharing is designed to help you minimise your risk.

“We encourage parents to always remember the safe sleep recommendations, as these are evidence based and will ensure your baby is in a position of safety,” Jane says.

“Never bring your baby into bed with you if you are overly tired, have consumed alcohol, drugs or prescription medication that causes drowsiness.”

Red Nose’s Safe Sleep Guide for Parents is designed to reduce your baby’s risk of Sudden and Unexpected Death in Infancy. Download the guide here.

Find more evidence-based tips in our safe sleeping advice hub.

Help us continue to provide free education for new and expectant parents by supporting Red Nose Day – Friday 9 August.