Sleep deprivation – top tips for parents!
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Mandy Gurney
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Former Director of the Sleep Clinic at the NHS St Charles hospital in London and Director of Millpond Sleep clinic. She also works as an NHS Sleep educator to health professionals across the UK.
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Baby Sleeping

Co-sleeping

Babies have been sleeping safely, tucked up close to their parents in the same bed (or "co-sleeping"), for thousands of years, all over the world. Co-sleeping can also help babies and mums to establish breastfeeding as mums who breastfeed are more likely to keep breastfeeding. Breastfeeding also reduces the risk of SIDS to babies. That said, there are some risks you need to avoid in order to make co-sleeping safe.
Video Tutorial
In Short

Don’t co-sleep with your baby if you or your partner:

Are very tired or have drunk alcohol.

Smoke, even if it’s outside the home, or if you smoked during pregnancy

Have taken any drugs – prescription or otherwise – that make you sleepy.

Are on a sofa or chair.

Don’t co-sleep if your baby:

Has a fever or is ill.

Had a low birth weight (less than 2.5kg or 5.5 lbs).

Was born prematurely (before 37 weeks).

Check further guidelines below for more on safe co-sleeping.

When is co-sleeping NOT safe?

The Department of Health advises that bed-sharing should always be avoided if one or both parents:

  • Is excessively tired.
  • Has consumed alcohol.
  • Is a smoker.
  • Has taken any drugs, prescription or otherwise, that make you sleepy.

The risks of co-sleeping are also increased if your baby:

  • Has a fever or any signs of illness.
  • Had a low birth weight (less than 2.5kg or 5.5lb).
  • Was born prematurely (37 weeks or less).
Safety tips when co-sleeping with your baby

If you do decide to co-sleep, you need to:

  • Wait until your baby is over six months old. Prior to that, they’re safest in a cot or a safety-approved bed space right up next to your bed. This still allows you to co-sleep but your baby is in their own safe bed space. (It is important to check attached cot beds are safety approved and not old ones that have been recalled.)
  • Keep your baby cool by using sheets and blankets rather than a duvet, otherwise, overheating can increase the chances of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
  • Always put your baby to sleep on her back rather than her front or side.
  • Never leave your baby alone in the bed – pop them in a moses basket or cot if you need to leave the room.
  • Ensure the mattress is nice and firm.
  • Make sure your baby can’t fall out of your bed or their bed space. Make sure you only use safety approved cots that attach to the side of the bed and don’t use a second-hand cot that may no longer attach properly (if it is e.g., your first baby’s attached cot and you have a new mattress and it is still safety approved and fully working that is okay).
  • Don’t use a pillow because of the risk of suffocation. Babies don’t need a pillow until they are a year old.
  • Don’t let your baby and toddler sleep next to each other. Toddlers don’t understand how vulnerable little babies are.
  • Never risk falling asleep with your baby on a sofa or armchair.
  • Ideally, have a nice big bed so there’s room for everyone.

Prior to six months, babies are safest in a cot or a safety-approved bed space right up next to your bed. This still allows you to sleep close to each other but your baby is in their own safe bed space. (It is important to check attached cot beds are safety approved and not old ones that have been recalled and are fitted properly.)

If you still choose to have your baby in your bed space, there is more information here:

https://www.isisonline.org.uk/where_babies_sleep/

https://www.unicef.org.uk/babyfriendly/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2011/11/Caring-for-your-baby-at-night_online-singles.pdf

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DISCLAIMER
This article is for information only and should not be used for the diagnosis or treatment of medical conditions. Essential Parent has used all reasonable care in compiling the information from leading experts and institutions but makes no warranty as to its accuracy. Consult a doctor or other health care professional for diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions. For details click here.