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Early years

23rd Mar 2019

Leading charity will now campaign for safe co-sleeping (after years of warning against it)

Trine Jensen-Burke

I co-slept with both of my babies and firmly believe it is the sole reason why I never during those baby years even had ONE sleep-less night.

Seriously – not one.

Co-sleeping worked and made sense for us, and I can hand on my hear say that if I was to have another baby, I would so the exact same thing.

However, it must be said that I have never smoked and probabably only drink a glass of wine about three or four times a year – meaning I knew I was co-sleeping in a safe manner. I am also a light sleeper, so I never once felt like I was putting my babies in danger by having them share a bed with me.

Despite all this, though, I often found I had to defend my view on this, as popular professional advice seemed to disagree with me and tell new parents that the safest thing was to have your baby sleep in his or her own bed – beside your bed.

Recently, though, leading British charity, Lulluby Trust, who previously warned parents not to co-sleep with their babies after claiming it increases cot deaths, have changed its advice – following a 8,500-strong survey where 76 percent of parents confirmed they shared a bed with their newborn.

The Lullaby Trust, which supports bereaved families and raises awareness on sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), is now campaigning for parents to practice safe co sleeping. And according to the charity, the move is to encourage an open discussion around the topic and help parents plan for safe ways of bed sharing to avoid it happening unintentionally.

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.”


In the survey 33 per cent 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. Experts also found around 40 percent of all those interviewed admitted to co sleeping in dangerous circumstance  such as on a sofa, having drunk alcohol or as a smoker – which all increase the risk of SIDS.

An adult falling asleep on a sofa or armchair with a baby increases the risk of SIDS by up to 50 times. Around 12 percent of respondents said they were smokers and shared a bed with their baby, and nine percent  admitted to having done so after drinking alcohol.

 Studies have found bed-sharing with your baby after drinking alcohol, using drugs or if you are a smoker has a very high risk of SIDS. Ans according to the latest available figures, around 133 babies die each year in co-sleeping situations, the majority of which will be in high-risk circumstances.


The Lullaby Trust has collaborated with Public Health England, Unicef UK Baby Friendly and Basis to produce a guide for health professionals as well as resources they can share with parents, to ensure safe sleep.

Advice for safer co-sleeping includes:

  • 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 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.

It is important to know there are some circumstances where it is dangerous to share a bed with your baby. You should not co-sleep if:

  • Either you or anyone in the bed smokes (even if you do not smoke in the bedroom)
  • Either you or anyone in the bed has recently drunk any alcohol
  • You or anyone in the bed has taken any drugs that make you feel sleepy
  • Your baby was born prematurely (before 37 weeks of pregnancy) or weighed under 2.5kg or 5½lbs when they were born

For more advice on safer sleep for your baby, download the free guide here. or visit