We are saddened to see the figures reported today relating to babies who died whilst sharing a bed with their parents. Whilst we haven’t seen the data our safer sleep advice is clear that there are some circumstances in which we know that sharing a bed with your baby is particularly risky.
Our research-based advice states that parents should not co-sleep if they have drunk alcohol, smoked or taken drugs that make them drowsy, or if baby was premature or of low birth weight. Also that parents ensure there are no pillows, duvets or items in the bed that could obstruct baby’s breathing or cause them to overheat. It is very important that parents do not fall asleep on a sofa or in an armchair with their baby as this increases the risk of SIDS by as much as 50 times.
It is important to note that the cause of SIDS remains unknown and therefore it cannot be said that in the case of those babies who sadly died that co-sleeping was the cause. All that is known is that co-sleeping was identified as a risk factor that was present.
What this does demonstrate is the importance of reaching all parents with safer sleep advice, which includes guidance on when it is not safe to share a bed with a baby. Many parents choose to share a bed with their baby, and we have worked with Unicef to put together guidance on how to minimise the risks, and which nights you are at a higher risk of SIDS and should put your baby into their cot or Moses basket. For further guidance on safer sleep and co-sleeping visit our advice pages.