Risks of co-sleeping
- Where babies are less than three months of age
- Where babies were born preterm or small for their age
- Where the baby so-sleeps with a smoker
- Where the parent is under the influence of alcohol
- Where the parent is under the influence of drugs (prescription or illegal) that cause sedation
- Where the parent is overly tired (difficult to arouse)
- Where the parent is obese
- Where there is adult bedding, doonas or pillows that may cover the baby
- Where the baby can be trapped between the wall and bed, can fall out of bed, or could be rolled on
- Where babies are sharing beds with other children or pets
- Where the baby is placed to sleep on a sofa, armchair, beanbag, waterbed or sagging mattress alone or with another person
What types of co-sleeping are not safe?
- Sofa sharing
- Sleeping on a parent's chest
- Sleeping in an adult's bed
Are there any benefits of co-sleeping?
- More successful breastfeeding relationships
- Improved sleep for mothers
- Increased baby sleep arousal, which reduces the risks of SIDS
- Enhanced bond between mums and babies
- Less crying, unsettled periods and stress for babies
- Babies grow into children and young adults with higher self-esteem, better social skills, and less psychiatric problems
- Mums develop protective sleep behaviours (e.g. when sleeping with her baby a mum typically faces towards her baby and positions herself so that her baby cannot be rolled on to, or slip underneath bedding).
So should I co-sleep with my baby?
How to reduce the risks when co-sleeping
- Do place your baby on their back to sleep and never on their tummy or side.
- Do make sure the mattress is firm and clean.
- Do make sure that bedding cannot cover your baby's face.
- Do use lightweight blankets.
- Do keep any pillows, doonas or soft items well away from your baby.
- Do make sure there is nothing soft underneath your baby.
- Do place your baby to sleep beside you and not in between and and your partner
- Do use an infant sleeping bag so your baby does not share your adult bedding.
- Do tie-up very long hair to prevent entanglement.
- Do remove teething necklaces prior to sleep.
- Don't wrap or swaddle your baby.
- Don't let your baby sleep too close to the edge of the bed where they can fall off.
- Don't put pillows next to your baby to prevent them rolling off the bed. A safer alternative is to place the adult mattress on the floor.
- Don't push your bed up against the wall.
- Don't leave your baby unattended on a sofa or bed.