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Room-Sharing

Having your baby sleep near you reduces the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome and makes night-time care easier.

Having your baby sleep in a cot in the same room as you until they are 6 months old is a key piece of advice given to new parents. There are two main reasons for this:

Firstly, a number of studies across Europe, in England, the United States and New Zealand have shown that babies sleeping in their parents' room have a lower risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) compared to babies sleeping in a separate room.  The amount by which room sharing reduces the risk of SIDS is large:

  • A study looking at SIDS cases in 20 locations across Europe estimated that 36% of SIDS deaths could have been prevented if the baby had slept in a cot in the same room as the parents.The ECAS Study, Carpenter et al, 2004. Click here for a summary of this research.

Secondly, researchThe relationship between rooming-in/not rooming-in and breast-feeding variables, Yamauchi & Yamanouchi, 1990; Comparisons of neonatal night time sleep-wake patterns in nursery versus rooming environments, Keefe, 1987. on mothers and babies after delivery suggests that compared to sleeping baby alone, sharing a room has other benefits, such as

  • Night-time feeding is easier
  • Babies cry less when close to their parent/s.
  • More sleep for parents and babies.

Reasons for keeping babies close apply for day-time sleeps or naps as well as night-time sleep.

Babies are safer if they sleep in the presence of an adult caregiver compared to sleeping in a room on their own, so during the day your baby is safest if they are sleeping near to an adult who is looking after them.

  • Blair et al (2006)Sudden Infant Death Syndrome and the time of death: factors associated with night-time and day-time deaths, Blair et al, 2006. Click here for a summary of this research. found that 75% of the day-time SIDS deaths occurred while babies were alone in a room

Many babies are happiest if they are carried during the day while they sleep. Slings and baby carriers that fasten to your body can be used to carry babies 'hands-free'. There is a Consumer's Association guide that provides information on things you should think about when considering using slings and baby carriers

Also remember that while cots that comply with British Standards are designed to be safe for babies, accidents can happen. Make sure the cot is put together properly and used properly; check that your baby can't fall from the cot; place the cot away from cords or curtains which baby might become entangled in; avoid putting anything in the cot which baby could choke on or become wedged against (pillows, bags, toys, household object etc). Other SIDS advice can be found here.

More detailed information about room-sharing can be found here. Information about the use of bed-side cots / side-car cribs can be found here

Last modified: 30th August 2013