Co-sleeping on the sofa puts babies lives at risk, warns charity



Over a third of all new mums with babies under six months old who co-sleep have slept with their baby on a sofa or armchair, according to a new survey from the safer baby sleep charity The Lullaby Trust and Bounty Parenting Club.

The survey found the most common place to sleep with baby is in bed (89%) followed by the sofa (30%) or armchair (10%). However, the charity’s research has shown that there is a 50-fold increase in the risk of babies dying suddenly and unexpectedly if a baby sleeps together with an adult on a sofa or an armchair[1]

The Bounty survey coincides with the launch of The Lullaby Trust’s new annual awareness campaign; Safer Sleep Week. From the 16-23 March 2015, The Lullaby Trust aims to ensure parents in the UK understand the importance of safer sleep, and are aware of sleep practices which can reduce the chance of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).

Sudden Infant Death Syndrome is the sudden and unexpected death of an infant where no cause is found. SIDS currently claims the lives of five babies every week in the UK.

The survey of over 700 women who had a baby in the last six months, showed that 53% of new mums have co-slept with their baby and, of those who co-slept, 46% had done so unintentionally.

Francine Bates, The Lullaby Trust’s Chief Executive, said:  “We know some parents have shared a sofa or chair with their baby to avoid bed sharing, without realising they are moving to a situation that increases risk far more.

“We have launched Safer Sleep Week to equip all new parents with the knowledge they need to ensure their baby is sleeping as safely as possible. If every parent followed our safer sleep message we believe we could go a long way in achieving our ambition of halving the rate of SIDS in this country by 2020.”

Lisa Penney, Spokesperson at Bounty, said: “We are thrilled to support The Lullaby Trust and Safer Sleep Week. One of the biggest challenges is to ensure that parents know exactly what they can do to reduce the chance of SIDS occurring.  Throughout March we will be including The Lullaby Trust’s new Safer Sleep Week advice card in Bounty packs to ensure that parents are informed right from the start of every baby’s life”.

Women were asked for their reasons for choosing to co-sleep; aiding mums and babies sleep was the main reason for choosing to co-sleep with baby (60%).  It was also seen as a way of helping with breastfeeding for 39%.

In December 2014, The National Institute of Health & Care Excellence (NICE) recommended all healthcare professionals and families be fully informed of the association between co-sleeping and SIDS.

Reassuringly, 91% of mums were aware that there is a risk associated with co-sleeping and SIDS. Nearly all were able to identify circumstances where the link between co-sleeping is strongest, such as smoking, drinking, taking drugs or when a baby is born prematurely or of a low birth-weight.


Notes to editors:

Safer Sleep Week, The Lullaby Trust’s new national awareness campaign, takes place from 16-23 March 2015.

Data for the Bounty Word of Mum survey was collected via Bounty’s quarterly online questionnaires in February 2015. A total of 702 mums who have at least one child aged 0-6 months completed the questionnaire.


About The Lullaby Trust

The Lullaby Trust provides specialist support for bereaved families, promotes expert advice on safer baby sleep and raises awareness of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).

Working with the NHS we run a national health-visitor led service for bereaved parents, Care of Next Infant (CONI) programme, which supports families before and after the birth of their new baby.

We are committed to supporting research to understand why babies die suddenly and unexpectedly and to find out more about how to reduce the risk of these tragic deaths.

The Lullaby Trust also runs an information line for parents and professionals (0808 802 6869) and a dedicated line for bereaved families (0808 802 6868). Both are free to call from landlines and mobiles.

Advice including, factsheets and the latest research can be found at

We campaign tirelessly, lobbying government to keep sudden infant death on the public health agenda.

About Bounty - Bounty ( is the UK’s favourite free-to-join parenting club, providing information, support and free product samples for young families throughout pregnancy, birth, toddlers and pre-school.


New co-sleeping guidelines from NICE published in December 2014

The guidelines say parents or carers with a child under the age of 1 should be told about the factors associated with co-sleeping:

  • Recognise that co-sleeping can be intentional or unintentional. Discuss this with parents and carers and inform them that there is an association between co-sleeping (parents or carers sleeping on a bed or sofa or chair with an infant) and SIDS.
  • Inform parents and carers that the association between co-sleeping (sleeping on a bed or sofa or chair with an infant) and SIDS is likely to be greater when they, or their partner, smoke.
  • Inform parents and carers that the association between co-sleeping (sleeping on a bed or sofa or chair with an infant) and SIDS may be greater with:
  • parental or carer recent alcohol consumption, or
  • parental or carer drug use, or
  • low birth-weight or premature infants.

[1] Fleming PJ, Bacon C, Blair PS, Berry PJ, editors. Sudden unexpected deaths in infancy. The CESDI SUDI studies 1993-1996. London: The Stationery Office. 2000

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