Some parents choose to share a bed or other sleep surface (also known as co-sleeping) with their babies. Read our advice on how to co-sleep more safely.
To reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) the safest place for a baby to sleep is in their own clear, flat, separate sleep space, such as a cot or Moses basket. However, we know that many parents find themselves co-sleeping whether they mean to or not. Wherever you’re planning for your baby to sleep we recommend making your bed a safer place for baby. Our advice on co-sleeping with your baby will tell you how.
When not to co-sleep
Whether you choose to co-sleep or it is unplanned, there are some key risks you should avoid.
Co-sleeping with your baby is very dangerous if:
- you or anyone in the bed has recently drunk any alcohol
- you or anyone in the bed smokes
- you or anyone in the bed has taken any drugs or medication that make you feel sleepy
- your baby was born prematurely (before 37 weeks of pregnancy) or weighed under 2.5kg or 5½ lbs when they were born.
In these scenarios, it is always best to put baby in their own safe sleep space, such as a cot or Moses basket. Keeping the cot or Moses basket next to your bed might make this easier.
Never fall asleep on a sofa or armchair with your baby. The risk of SIDS is 50 times higher for babies when they sleep on a sofa or armchair with an adult. They are also at risk of accidental death as they can easily slip into a position where they are trapped and can’t breathe.
Co-sleeping more safely
- Keep pillows and adult bedding away from your baby or any other items that could cover their head or cause them to overheat. A high proportion of babies who die as a result of SIDS are found with their head covered by loose bedding.
- Follow all The Lullaby Trust’s other safer sleep advice to reduce the risk of SIDS such as sleeping baby on their back
- To reduce the risk of accidents, do not bring other children or pets into bed with you.
- Try to make sure or check that baby cannot be trapped, wedged or fall out of bed or get trapped between the mattress and the wall
- Never leave your baby unattended in an adult bed
If you are bedsharing with your baby you should consider any risks before every sleep. It is easy for your situation to change if you are unwell or have drunk any alcohol, which means your baby will be safest in a separate sleep space such as a cot or Moses basket on that occasion.
Co-sleeping with your baby: FAQs
I am worried I might fall asleep while I breastfeed my baby at night, is this ok?
Breastfeeding reduces the chance of SIDS. If you feel you might fall asleep we would recommend you prepare the bed as described above so it is safer for baby if this happens.
Make sure you know the advice on when never to co-sleep so you know when to take particular care. It is really important that you do not accidentally fall asleep with your baby on a sofa or armchair. If you think you might fall asleep on a sofa or armchair, put the baby down in a safe place to sleep.
Should I co-sleep with my baby?
The safest place for a baby is their own separate sleep space, such as a cot or Moses basket. We would just advise you to read all the information on co-sleeping and how to reduce the risks, so you can make an informed decision for you and your baby.
However, there are some circumstances where we would strongly recommend against co-sleeping such as on a sofa or armchair, if anyone in the bed smokes or has drunk alcohol or your baby was premature or a low birth weight.
Can I co-sleep with twins or multiples?
If you choose to bedshare with twins or multiples we would advise not to bedshare with more than one baby at a time due to risk of accidents associated with bedsharing with more than one baby or child.
Is it safer to co-sleep using a nest or pod than with a baby just lying on the adult bed?
No. We do not recommend that babies sleep on soft surfaces such as pods or nests. If you choose to co-sleep with your baby the safest place is a clear space on a firm flat mattress the same as we would advise with a cot.
Why do you advise against co-sleeping in certain scenarios?
It is estimated that around half of SIDS deaths occur whilst co-sleeping, and that most of these are in high risk situations. We do not know the cause of SIDS and why these deaths happen but we do know what some of the risk factors are and that removing those risks greatly lowers the chance of SIDS occurring.
For that reason we strongly advise against co-sleeping when there are risk factors such as a baby being premature or a parent having drunk alcohol.
What bedding should I use for my baby when we co-sleep?
Adult bedding should be kept well away from your baby along with any belts or cords from clothing. Keep adult bedding at your waist height and add an extra layer of clothing if you are cold
A baby sleeping bag is a good way of giving your baby their own bedding when bedsharing.
Baby sleeping bags should be well fitted, so the baby can’t wriggle down inside. Most sleeping bags are fitted according to a baby’s weight, rather than age.