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Caring for your baby at night – co-sleeping?

Updated: Mar 28, 2022

It is important to know that 'cot death’ or Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) is very rare (1 in 3,710 of all births in England and Wales).

It strikes me that almost everything that we do involves a ‘risk’. Often, we don’t think about this at all, such as when we get in the car to drive somewhere. Yet at other times it can play heavily on our mind and emotions. Cot death is something that most parents worry about, yet as statistics reflect, it is thankfully very rare. However, parents are wise to consider what circumstances and practises are not safe, so that they can avoid these and minimise risks. It is not safe nor advisable to co-sleep with your baby in the following situations;

  • Sleeping on a sofa or chair with your baby is very dangerous and should always be avoided. It greatly increases the risk of SIDS (to 1 in 203)

  • SIDS is more likely if parents co-sleep after drinking alcohol or taking any drugs (prescribed ones that cause drowsiness or illegal drugs). This greatly increases risk of SIDS to 1 in 203

  • Co-sleeping is more dangerous when parents smoke or have smoked in pregnancy (the risk of SIDS while co-sleeping with a regular smoker is 1 in 919)

  • SIDS is more common in babies of low birthweight (under 2.5kg/5.5lbs) or premature (born before 37 weeks). Parents of these babies should avoid co-sleeping, especially in early infancy

I am always keen to use reliable, trustworthy sources of information and to signpost parents to such places. One of these is unicef (UK). So, what does unicef say about co-sleeping?

  • They acknowledge that young babies wake and feed frequently at night and that this is normal

  • Whilst some babies naturally settle easily in a cot or Moses basket between feeds, others do not. This too is normal

  • Babies thrive on closeness and comfort

  • Sleeping in close contact helps babies to settle and supports breastfeeding, which in turn protects babies from SIDS

  • On any night 22% of babies will bedshare

  • Abandoning breastfeeding because a mother is exhausted from trying to stay awake sitting up to breast feed means that they deprive themselves and their baby of benefits that breastfeeding brings

If you wish to know more about safe sleep for babies, please visit any of the following; The Lullaby Trust Unicef – The Baby Friendly Initiative Basis – Baby sleep info source

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