Steps to Safe Co-Sleeping
Evidence suggests that most parents co-sleep in one form or another at some point in their parenting journey.
Even if you may not have previously considered it, a survey by The Lullaby Trust suggests that 76% of parents have co-slept with their baby at some point. However, over 40% admitted to having done so in dangerous circumstances. This is why it is so important to have open discussions and as much awareness as possible around co-sleeping safety.
There is often some confusion about the definition of co-sleeping, and what differentiates it from bed-sharing. Co-sleeping means sleeping in close proximity to your baby, this can include bed-sharing, but also could include a side-cot, or simply a cot nearby in the same room. In other words, bed-sharing is one way of co-sleeping.
Both practices are perfectly safe if the correct steps are taken. It is recommended that parents sleep in the same room as their baby until they are six months old, but many parents co-sleep for much longer.
There are several ways to ensure bed-sharing is done safely,
- Make sure your space is clear of bulky adult bedding that could be accidentally pulled over baby (like pillows and big duvets)
- Baby always placed onto their back and not left unsupervised in the bed
- Always next to mum and no one else in the bed (dad is safe to be next to mum, but baby is at increased risk of in between parents) This includes siblings and pets.
- Always remember NEVER to fall asleep with babies on sofas or chairs, as this increases the risk of SIDS by up to 50%.
- There are also occasions when bed sharing would be dangerous and we would recommend their own sleep space (a cot or moses basket free of toys, sleep aids where they are placed on their backs feet to the foot of the bed space)
- When anyone in the bed is under the influence of alcohol or drugs that have sedation effects.
- Baby was born prematurely or is a lower birth weight (under 5.5lbs).
- If you or anyone else in the bed smokes.
Whatever you choose, ensuring you’ve made an informed and safe decision is what matters, and will help you and baby sleep well.