The choice to co-sleep is a very personal one, and parents should make an informed decision based on their own situations.
What is Co-Sleeping?
Some parents choose to share a bed with their baby while they're young, while others choose to put them to bed in a cot or Moses basket.
It can be difficult to know where's best for your baby to sleep, especially with so much controversy around the subject of co-sleeping.
The choice to co-sleep is a very personal one, and parents should make an informed decision based on their own situations. This guide is here to provide you with the information you need to decide whether co-sleeping is right for you and your baby.
What is co-sleeping?
Co-sleeping is the term used to describe the practice of parents and babies or young children sleeping in the same bed. It means that baby shares a bed with their parent(s) for most of the night, not just to be soothed or fed.
Guidelines state that during the first six months, it’s safest for your baby to be put to sleep in a cot or Moses basket in your room. But according to NCT, co-sleeping is very common. Around half of all British parents will share their bed with their newborn baby in the first months.
Is co-sleeping with my baby safe?
Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) is rare, but it's a risk that's sometimes linked to co-sleeping.
Co-sleeping can be dangerous if…
- Your baby was born prematurely (before 37 weeks)
- Your baby was born at a low weight (less than 2.5kg or 5.5lb)
- Your partner or you are smokers
- You or your partner have consumed alcohol, drugs or medication that causes drowsiness
- You’re extremely tired
- You fall asleep on a chair or sofa
- Your baby is unwell
If any of the above apply to you and your baby, you should never co-sleep with them.
Advice for safe co-sleeping
To make co-sleeping as safe as possible, you should…
- Always put your baby on their back to sleep.
- Monitor your baby’s temperature. The perfect room temperature for a baby is between 16°C-20°C or 60°F-68°F.
- Make sure there's a safe space for your baby to sleep where they can’t fall or become trapped against a wall.
- Keep mattresses, pillows, and sheets away from the baby, as these pose a risk of suffocation and over-heating.
- Keep your baby's head uncovered.
- Dress your baby in an age-appropriate sleeping bag and avoid loose bedding.
- Use a mattress that’s firm, flat, waterproof and in good condition.
- Not let other children or pets in the bed with your baby.
- Put your baby to bed before they fall asleep, and try not to let them fall asleep in your arms.
You should follow these same safe sleep guidelines if your baby sleeps next to you in a Moses basket or bedside cot.
- UNICEF has a range of resources on infant sleep and caring for babies at night.
- Basis provides access to research-based evidence about biologically normal infant sleep.
- The Lullaby Trust provides lifesaving advice to help parents and carers reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.