A survey shows that in the UK, 75% of 8,500 parents have co-slept with their baby at some point. Co-sleeping, especially under dangerous circumstances, increases the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). Around 133 babies die each year in co-sleeping situations.
The Lullaby Trust wants to raise awareness and open discussions between parents and health professionals on co-sleeping. They have collaborated with Public Health England, UNICEF UK, Baby Friendly and Basis to help parents. They have published a guide for health professionals and resources for parents.
Providing parents with a safe space to be honest and open about co-sleeping situations is necessary as some feel judged or ashamed. Co-sleeping can be very dangerous; hence the need for information on how to do it safely, even if parents don't plan on co-sleeping.
Here are some ways to co-sleep safely:
- Keep the space around the baby clear of pillows and duvets
- Always put the baby on their back
- Avoid letting pets or other children in the bed
- Make sure the baby cannot fall out of the bed or become trapped between the mattress and wall
- Never leave the baby alone in the bed
However there are times when you SHOULD NOT CO-SLEEP WITH YOUR BABY:
- Never sleep with a baby on a sofa or armchair
- If you or anyone in the bed smokes (even if you do not smoke in the bedroom)
- If you or anyone in the bed has consumed any alcohol, or has taken any drugs
- The baby was born prematurely or weighed under 2.5 kg/ 5.5 lbs at birth
All of these circumstances increase the risk of SIDS.
There is nothing wrong with parents wanting to co-sleep with their babies, but it is really important to understand the risks of co-sleeping and to follow advice on how to do it safely.
For more advice on safer sleeping for your baby, download the free guide: www.lullabytrust.org.uk/about-us/safer-sleep-week-2019/new-safer-sleep-publications/ or read our information on co-sleeping