Bed sharing or co-sleeping refers to the practice of sleeping in close proximity to your baby. Co-sleeping is when you are sleeping in the same room as your baby, whereas bed sharing refers to the practice of sharing your sleep space (such as a bed), not just the room. While this practice can be safe and beneficial when done correctly, it's crucial to follow specific guidelines to minimise the risk of accidents or harm to the baby. In the UK, the Lullaby Trust provides evidence-based recommendations for safe bed sharing/co-sleeping.
Ensure a Safe Sleeping Environment: The sleep surface should be firm, flat, and free from pillows, duvets, soft bedding, or any other suffocation hazards. Use a fitted sheet to secure the mattress and avoid gaps where the baby could become trapped.
Avoid Alcohol, Smoking, and Drug Use: The presence of alcohol, smoking, or drugs, including prescription medications that induce drowsiness, increases the risk of accidents and harm to the baby. It is safest for parents to avoid these substances before bed sharing or co-sleeping. This is also true for any partners who may be sharing a bed space with you and baby.
Separate Pillows and Bedding: Keep your baby clear of pillows, blankets, or any objects that could obstruct their airway or cause overheating. Use lightweight and breathable sleepwear or consider using a baby sleep sack to ensure the baby remains at a comfortable temperature.
Positioning and Bed Space: Place your baby on their back to sleep, with their feet at the bottom of the bed to reduce the risk of the baby wriggling under the covers if using a sidecar or bedside cot. Ensure there is enough space for the baby and avoid overcrowding if baby is sharing your bed space. This includes not sleeping with pets.
Consider a Sidecar or Bedside Cot: If bed sharing or co-sleeping is your preference, consider using a sidecar or bedside cot that attaches securely to your bed. This arrangement provides a separate sleep surface for your baby while still keeping them close and easily accessible.
Be Alert and Responsive: While bed sharing or co-sleeping, remain alert to your baby's needs, especially during nighttime feedings. Be responsive to their cues and ensure their airway remains clear at all times.
This information has been taken from the Lullaby Trust, this information is true and correct as of June 2023. Please refer to the Lullaby Trust for further information.
Did you know that we offer two postnatal courses which cover guidance on safe sleep practices. The 4th Trimester class (newborn sleep) and the Postnatal Plus+ (sleep for babies & infants 4 months +). Click below to book onto a class today