Some parents choose to bed-share with their babies. This means that their baby shares the same adult bed for most of the night, and not just to be comforted or fed. It is important for you to know that there are some circumstances in which this can be very dangerous.
Bed sharing increases the chance of SIDS and is particularly dangerous if:
- Either you or your partner smokes (even if you do not smoke in the bedroom)
- Either you or your partner has drunk alcohol or taken drugs (including medications that may make you drowsy)
Similarly, bed sharing with a baby of low birth weight (2.5kg or 51/2lbs or less) or a premature baby (37 weeks or less) is strongly linked to an increased risk of SIDS.
You should never sleep together with your baby if any of the above points apply to you, or even if you just feel very tired. You must be especially careful when giving feeds that you are not in a position where you could both fall asleep in the bed, an armchair or on the sofa together.
Parents may still choose to bed-share with their baby. If this is your choice, it is important that you are informed about how to minimise the risks. It is important to note that a high proportion of infants who die as a result of SIDS are found with their head covered by loose bedding. Ensure there are no pillows, sheets, blankets or any other items in the bed with you that could obstruct your baby’s breathing or cause them to overheat.
The safest place for your baby to sleep for the first 6 months is in a separate cot or Moses basket in the same room as you.
Co-sleeping with your baby: FAQs
I am worried I might fall asleep in bed while I breastfeed my baby at night, is this ok?
Breastfeeding reduces the chance of SIDS, so we would always try and help you work out a way to continue breastfeeding in the safest way possible. If you feel you might fall asleep because you are lying down, it might be worth trying to feed in a sitting position or step outside of bed to breastfeed. Make sure you know the advice on when never to bed share so you know when to take particular care. However, it is really important that you do not accidentally fall asleep with your baby on a sofa. If you think you might fall asleep, put the baby down in a safe place to sleep. If you are breastfeeding, have your partner stay up with you, breastfeed in a different position where you are confident you might not fall asleep, or feed the baby somewhere else.
My baby won’t settle in their cot and only sleeps well in our bed, help!
Unfortunately there is no easy fix to a baby’s sleeping habits – but keep persevering! Babies can get used to different sleeping places but it can take a while. Try moving their cot close to your bed so you can still put your hand on them if needed and they know you are close by.
Do I need to bed share to breastfeed successfully?
There is no evidence to say that you need to bed share to breastfeed. For night feeds it is easy to bring your baby into bed to feed or settle, but they are safest then going back into their cot to sleep.
Do you advise against bed sharing?
We do not tell parents to never bed share. However, as a charity committed to reducing the number of babies dying from SIDS, we try to give parents the best advice we can, so they know
the things they should never do, and what are the safest ways to look after their baby so they can make informed choices. The Lullaby Trust and the NHS, and many professional and parenting
organisations all agree that the safest place for a baby to sleep is in their own cot or Moses basket in their parents’ bedroom until they are at least six months old.