How to reduce risks when bedsharing with your baby

How to reduce risks when bedsharing with your baby

The AAP, RedNose, and The Lullaby Trust all agree that the safest place for a baby to sleep is in their own safe sleep space (cot/crib) but in their parents room for at least the first 6 to 12 months. 

But for those parents who choose to bedshare (or are reactively bedsharing) there are guidelines on how to reduce the risks of SIDS and sleeping accidents when bedsharing. 

These include:

  • Place your baby on their back to sleep (never on their tummy or side). This helps to protect their airways.
  • Keep baby’s head and face uncovered by keeping pillows and adult bedding away from your baby. Use a safe sleeping bag with baby’s arms out – don’t wrap or swaddle baby when bed-sharing.
  • Make sure the mattress is firm and flat. Don’t use a waterbed, or anything soft underneath – for example, a lamb’s wool underlay or if your mattress has a pillow/foam top. 
  • Tie up long hair and remove anything else that could be a strangling risk, including all jewellery, teething necklaces and dummy chains.
  • Move the bed away from the wall, so baby can’t get trapped between the bed and wall.
  • Make sure your baby can’t fall out of bed. Consider sleeping on your mattress on the floor if it’s possible your baby might roll off the bed.
  • Create a clear space for your baby and place your baby on their back to the side of one parent away from the edge, never in the middle of two adults or next to other children or pets as this can increase the risk of overheating and suffocation.
  • Falling asleep holding baby on a couch or chair is always unsafe and increases the risks of SIDS by 50 times – move yourself and baby to a safe sleep environment if you think you might fall asleep.

There are also some circumstances when it is never safe to bedshare with your baby, and these include:


  • Your baby was born preterm or low birth weight 
  • When you don’t have a safe mattress suitable for infant sleep
  • You are overly tired or unwell
  • If you or someone in your home smokes
  • You or anyone else in the bed have recently drunk any alcohol, drugs or medication that make you feel sleepy 



McGarvey C, McDonnell M, Hamilton K, O'Regan M, Matthews T. An 8 year study of risk factors for SIDS: bed-sharing versus non-bed-sharing. Arch Dis Child. 2006 Apr;91(4):318-23. doi: 10.1136/adc.2005.074674. Epub 2005 Oct 21. PMID: 16243855; PMCID: PMC2065975.

Blair PS, Sidebotham P, Pease A, Fleming PJ. Bed-sharing in the absence of hazardous circumstances: is there a risk of sudden infant death syndrome? An analysis from two case-control studies conducted in the UK. PLoS One. 2014 Sep 19;9(9):e107799. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0107799. PMID: 25238618; PMCID: PMC4169572.

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