Healthy living

Co-sleeping and the risks to your baby’s health

Co-sleeping is when a parent or carer sleeps with a baby on the same sleep surface, such as a bed, couch, or beanbag.

Co-sleeping is not recommended.

Line drawing of parent co-sleeping with their baby on a couch. There is a red cross in the top left corner of the image.

Co-sleeping and sudden unexpected death in infancy

There are some situations when co-sleeping is associated with an increased risk of sudden unexpected death in infancy (SUDI). These include:

  • if your baby is
    • under 4 months
    • premature
    • very small.
  • if your baby shares the same sleeping surface with someone who:
    • is a smoker
    • is overly tired
    • has been drinking alcohol or using drugs that may make them sleepy.
  • sleep environments where:
    • pillows, adult bedding or bedcovers may cover your baby’s face
    • your baby could become trapped between the wall and bed, could fall out of bed, or could be rolled on
    • your baby shares the same sleep surface with other children or pets.

Safer sleeping

Co-sleeping is not recommended for babies at any age, however if you do choose to start sharing a sleeping surface with your baby, there are some things you can do to make it safer.

Where to place your baby

Place your baby on their back and beside one parent/carer, not in-between two people. This is so that they do not overheat, become covered, or slip underneath pillows, adult bedding or covers.

Make sure your baby is not too close to the edge of the sleep surface where they could roll off.

Do not place pillows at the side of your baby to prevent them from rolling off.

If the mattress is put on the floor as a safer option, make sure it is away from the wall and other furniture, so there are no gaps for your baby to slip into.

Mattress and bedding or covers

Make sure that the mattress is firm and flat. Pillows, adult bedding or covers, and any other soft items should be kept away from your baby.

Make sure there is nothing soft underneath your baby, for example, a sheepskin rug or a wool underlay

Dress your baby in a baby sleeping bag with fitted neck and arm holes, so they can lie outside the adult bedding or covers.

Only use light weight blankets (not a doona) that won’t cover your baby’s face.


Your baby should not be wrapped when sharing the same sleep surface as a parent/carer to prevent overheating.

Important information

Children or pets should never share the same sleep surface with your baby.

Co-sleeping considerations

Any benefits of co-sleeping must be carefully considered with the above risks.

The safest place for your baby to sleep is in their own cot by the side of your bed.

Where to get help

  • Visit your midwife or child health nurse.
  • See your doctor.
  • Ring healthdirect Australia on 1800 022 222.

Ngala Helpline

  • 8.00am – 8.00pm 7 days a week
  • Phone: 9368 9368
  • Outside metro area – Free call 1800 111 546 (free from land line only).


  • Co-sleeping is not recommended – it increases the risk of sudden unexpected death in infancy.
  • Never share a sleep surface with your baby if you are overly tired, have been drinking alcohol or have taken drugs that will make you sleepy.


Women and Newborn Health Service (WNHS)

This publication is provided for education and information purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical care. Information about a therapy, service, product or treatment does not imply endorsement and is not intended to replace advice from your healthcare professional. Readers should note that over time currency and completeness of the information may change. All users should seek advice from a qualified healthcare professional for a diagnosis and answers to their medical questions.

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