A survey of over 8,500 parents carried out by cot death charity The Lullaby Trust has shown that 76% have co-slept with their baby at some point. However, over 40% of parents admitted to having done so in dangerous circumstances such as on a sofa, having drunk alcohol or as a smoker. All of these circumstances greatly increase the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (also known as cot death or SIDS). So, in support of this year's Safer Sleep Campaign, we're sharing some key advice for safer co-sleeping with your baby right here on the blog.
N.B. Babies should not wear hats when sleeping indoors, this image is from a JoJo photoshoot and does not represent the correct way to put your child to bed. Please consult The Lullaby Trust website for safety advice on bedclothes and bedding.
The safer co-sleeping checklist
*Brought to you by The Lullaby Trust, Public Health England, Unicef UK Baby Friendly and Basis
✔ Keep the space around your baby clear of pillows and duvets.
✔ Always sleep your baby on their back.
✔ Avoid letting pets or other children in the bed.
✔ Make sure your baby cannot fall out of bed or become trapped between the mattress and wall.
✔ Never leave your baby alone in the bed.
✔ You should never sleep with your baby on a sofa or armchair, this increases the risk of SIDS by 50 times.
✔ Do not co-sleep if either you or anyone in the bed smokes (even if you do not smoke in the bedroom).
✔ Do not co-sleep if either you or anyone in the bed has recently drunk any alcohol.
✔ Do not co-sleep if you or anyone in the bed has taken any drugs that make you feel sleepy.
✔ Do not co-sleep if your baby was born prematurely (before 37 weeks of pregnancy) or weighed under 2.5kg or 5 1/2 lbs when they were born.
According to the latest available figures, around 133 babies die each year in co-sleeping situations, many of which will be in high risk circumstances. If you're unsure about the safety of your co-sleeping habits, it's important to open up the discussion with your healthcare professional.
It’s not uncommon for parents to doze off with their baby, so it's also important that you learn how to prepare for unplanned co-sleeping. In the survey, 33% of parents had shared a bed with their baby in an unplanned situation, which could mean risk factors were present such as loose adult bedding. As long as you bear this in mind, as well as the above checklist, you will be on your way to ensuring your little one's bedtime is under the safest circumstances possible.
Safer Sleep Week is The Lullaby Trust’s annual national awareness-raising campaign. Launched in 2015, Safer Sleep Week aims to make sure parents, carers and health professionals know the importance of safer sleep and are aware of how to reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
Jenny Ward, Acting CEO of The Lullaby Trust said:
“Co-sleeping needs to be discussed with all families. We know from talking to parents that if they are told not to co-sleep they will then feel they cannot discuss what actually happens. As a result they will not get important advice on how to co-sleep more safely. It is a reality that even if parents do not plan to co-sleep, many still fall asleep with their babies unintentionally. Babies can and do die in high risk co-sleeping situations. If given the right advice, parents can prepare for planned and unplanned co-sleeping that will help to mitigate those risks and reduce the chance of SIDS.”
For more advice on safer sleep for your baby, download the free guide at www.lullabytrust.org.uk/about-us/safer-sleep-week-2019/new-safer-sleep-publications/ or visit www.lullabytrust.org.uk