Bed-sharing with your baby

Until quite recently, it was not recommended to practice bed-sharing with your new baby because of the risk of SIDS and smothering. As many new mums will know, this advice can make establishing breastfeeding very difficult as babies are likely, in the early days, to want to feed more frequently in the night. This is just another case of being ‘damned if you do and damned if you don’t’ advice that is so hard for new parents but particularly new mums to get their heads around. Bed-sharing is not good, but breastfeeding is. What do you do when you are trying to practice responsive exclusive breastfeeding and too exhausted to get up several times in the night?

Well, we have good news.

It is now okay to share a bed if it is done ‘responsibly’. Why would you not have done that before you may ask? As new parents our baby’s well-being is our main priority, even to the detriment of our own. We listen to the best advice and the best advice was until now NOT to bed-share under any circumstances.

Now it has been established that bed-sharing makes breastfeeding easier and helps the length of time the baby is breastfed exclusively. The risk of suffocation is extremely low if there are no other hazardous circumstances which are (Blair et al, 2020):

  • Sharing a sofa with a sleeping adult (‘‘sofa-sharing’’)
  • Infant sleeping next to an adult who is impaired by alcohol or drugs
  • Infant sleeping next to an adult who smokes
  • Sleeping in the prone position
  • Never initiating breastfeeding
  • Sharing a chair with a sleeping adult
  • Sleeping on soft bedding
  • Being born preterm or of low birth weight

If you would like to know more about how to bed-share with your baby in a safe way, these are good reliable resources to look at:

BASIS – baby sleep info source
Durham University Infant and Sleep Centre
The Lullaby Trust
Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine

Blair, P. S. et al. (2020) ‘Bedsharing and Breastfeeding: The Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine Protocol #6, Revision 2019’, Breastfeeding Medicine, 15(1), pp. 5–16. doi: 10.1089/bfm.2019.29144.psb.