By Raising Children Network
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Baby wrapped ready for sleep

Where your baby sleeps is up to you – in a cot or in bed with you. The safest option is for your baby to sleep in a cot next to your bed for the first 6 to 12 months.

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 research has shown that there are some things that increase the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) and fatal sleep accidents.

Investigations into the deaths of children from SIDS, both in Australia and overseas, have consistently shown that one or more of the following risk factors are associated with almost all SIDS-related infant deaths.

  • tummy and side sleeping
  • soft sleeping surfaces (sofa, soft mattress, pillow, water bed, lamb’s wool)
  • face and head covered by bedding (can lead to accidental asphyxia and also overheating, which is a known cause of SIDS)
  • smoking during pregnancy or after birth.

Room-sharing with babies: advantages

Room-sharing with a baby has been shown to reduce the risk of SIDS. 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 sharing a bed 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, or AS2195 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 26-10-2012