Safe Sleeping with your Baby

Photography: Brandi Johnson

By Hannah Schenker

A new handout addresses the issue of safe sleeping and SIDS rates among babies.

The report is authored by Sarah Ockwell-Smith, Wendy Middlemiss, Tracy Cassels, Helen Steven, and Darcia Narvaez. In addition to the white paper, the May 2013 issue of Clinical Lactation is also available at Praeclarus Press.


Read the full report ‘SIDS – Risks and Realities’ HERE


This guide may assist you to make decisions around how to sleep safely with your baby – a topic that causes a fair amount of controversy among parents and experts alike.

This report addresses issues such as risk factors for SIDS, the role of breastfeeding, whether co-sleeping is safe and how to make sure you are doing everything safely. It also suggests several areas where previous research failed to take certain crucial factors into account before claiming that co-sleeping was unsafe.

There are many advantages to sleeping near your baby, including:

  • A more settled baby
  • Easier to breastfeed, meaning you can breastfeed longer
  • Easier to rest while still meeting your baby’s needs at night

Sleeping near your baby means either having your baby sleep in your bed, in a co-sleeper attached to your bed or in a cot or bassinet in the same room.

Research by Sarah Ockwell-Smith, founder of Gentle Parenting and author of Why Your Baby’s Sleep Matters, suggests that many mothers do in fact sleep near their babies, despite what they might tell other people, for fear of being judged. Many mothers find that their babies are happier and life is easier when they share a bed. It is something mothers have been doing through the ages. But some experts in recent years have tried to dissuade women from sleeping near their babies, for fear that it can cause SIDS. Something no mother would wish on anyone.

Sarah Ockwell-Smith’s book claims that sharing a bed can be better than using a cot for young children because “everyone gets more sleep and the habit is safe if done correctly”.

“In this country we don’t like co-sleeping because we think it will create clingy children,” Ms Ockwell-Smith told the Sunday Times.

“But all the research supports that both mums and babies get more sleep when they bed-share. And at five, children who co-slept are no more likely to be in their parents’ beds than those who slept in a cot.”

See next page for safe co-sleeping guidelines. 

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