By Raising Children Network
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Sleeping newborn in cot image copyright Morenosoppelsa |
Where your baby sleeps is up to you. The safest option is for your baby to sleep in a cot next to your bed for the first 6 to 12 months.

Where babies sleep: what you need to know

Where your baby sleeps is a personal choice. It’s best made after you think about your own family’s needs and situation.

But it’s important to know that there are some things that increase the risk of sudden unexpected death in infancy (SUDI including SIDS and fatal sleeping accidents).

Investigations into the deaths of children from SUDI (including SIDS and fatal sleeping accidents), both in Australia and overseas, have consistently shown that one or more of the following risk factors are associated with almost all sudden unexpected infant deaths:

  • tummy and side sleeping
  • soft sleeping surfaces – for example, sofas, soft mattresses, pillows, water beds or lamb’s wool
  • face and head covered by bedding – this can lead to accidental asphyxia and also overheating, which is a known cause of SUDI (including SIDS and fatal sleeping accidents)
  • smoking during pregnancy or after birth.
When a baby dies unexpectedly and for no obvious reason, it’s often described as sudden unexpected death in infancy (SUDI). SUDI is a broad term that includes SIDS and fatal sleeping accidents. Although SIDS is better known, SUDI, SIDS and fatal sleep accidents share common risk factors.

Sharing a room with your baby: advantages

Room-sharing with a baby has been shown to reduce the risk of SUDI (including SIDS and fatal sleeping accidents). It’s recommended that you sleep with your baby in a cot next to your bed for the first 6-12 months.

Parents say this arrangement has the following advantages over separate rooms:

  • A cot next to your bed lets you be close so you can respond quickly when your baby wakes.
  • You can check on your baby when you want to during the night.

And parents also say that room-sharing has these advantages over co-sleeping with baby: 

  • You get better sleep. Babies sleep very lightly, and their movements can disturb a parent sleeping in the same bed.
  • It’s easier for babies to sleep away from their parents at a child care centre or in the care of a friend or relative if they’re used to settling in their own beds.
  • It’s easier to start babies off in their own beds than to change the sleeping arrangements at a later stage (particularly if you decide you need to do this before babies actually want their own beds).

A safe cot

Make sure your baby’s cot meets current Australian standards (AS2172:2003, or AS2195:1999 for portable cots).

If you’re given a cot or buy a second-hand one, check that it meets current standards by looking at Product Safety Australia’s guide to keeping baby safe.

Read more about how to ensure your baby’s cot is set up safely in our article on safe sleeping
  • Last updated or reviewed 20-03-2015