Stats show co-sleeping could do more harm than good

Georgie Darling
Co-sleeping has played a factor in hundreds of deaths over the last five years. [photo: Getty]
Co-sleeping has played a factor in hundreds of deaths over the last five years. [photo: Getty]

Sleeping directly next to your baby might seem like the easiest way to keep an eye on them throughout the night, but a new study suggests it could cause more harm than good.

While it can be reassuring to know if anything happens then you’re right there to hand, co-sleeping actually causes many deaths each year.

New research has revealed that nearly three babies a week die in a situation where “co-sleeping” was a factor.

So it’s no surprise that many parents lie about co-sleeping to their doctor.

Francine Bates, of The Lullaby Trust, warned: “Some parents choose to share a bed with their baby but we recommend they keep in mind the risk factors.”

If parents accidentally roll over, they can crush their infant, leading to suffocation or over-heating.

The chance of this happening increases for parents who smoke, have taken drugs or alcohol or are very tired.

“There’s also an increased risk if your baby was premature or at a low birth weight.” Ms Bates added.

Co-sleeping can lead to an increased risk of in Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. [photo: Getty]
Co-sleeping can lead to an increased risk of in Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. [photo: Getty]

There were 141 recorded co-sleeping-related deaths in 2017, 131 in 2016 and 121 in 2015.

The figures, held by the Department of Education, were released after a Freedom of Information Act request.

Benefits of co-sleeping include security and a decreased chance of separation anxiety for the toddler.

It’s also thought the overall development of the baby is improved by staying close to the parent’s smell and comfort.

Co-sleeping was previously thought to lower the chance of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), but this latest research would suggest the opposite.

SIDS, where a baby passes away in their sleep for no obvious reason, is considered more likely during co-sleeping.

Ms Bates said: “The safest place for a baby to sleep is in their own cot or Moses basket in their parents’ bedroom until they are at least six months old.

“If you are breastfeeding in bed, do it in a position where you won’t fall asleep. A good tip is to set an alarm on your phone.”

Find out more about co-sleeping safely here.

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