Is bed-sharing safe for a breastfeeding baby?

Bed-sharing carries risks, even if the mum is breastfeeding.

A study of more than 2,000 breastfeeding mums revealed that 72% of those who nursed in bed fell sound asleep with their babies. And, 44% fell asleep while nursing on a sofa or recliner.

Researchers from New Zealand found that breastfeeding mums who bed-share frequently pulled the covers over their babies' nose (on average 1 hour/night) and often put their babies in an unsafe position, like the side or stomach (on average 6 hours/night).

A large SUID research project found 64% of deaths among babies under 2 months of age occurred in a parent’s bed.

The risk was confirmed by British researchers analysing almost 1500 infant sleep deaths. Bed-sharing increased the risk of SUID 500% for infants under 3 months of age even if the parents did not smoke, drink or have other risk factors.

Mothers are often exhausted from months of sleep deprivation. On average, new mums get 6-6.5 hours of sleep/night…and those hours are broken into many slivers of inefficient, unrestful sleep. The U.S. Highway Safety Commission reported that just one night of 6-hour sleep almost doubles the risk of a serious car accident. Other studies show that sleeping 6 hours for 10 days in a row leads to a similar mental impairment to being drunk. And, that is when subjects get 6 hours of continual sleep.

Unfortunately, bed-sharing (and sofa sleeping) creates unwanted risks, even for babies who are breastfed. So, if you would not bed share when you are drunk, you should not do it when you are tired.


Happiest Baby does not provide medical advice. Please seek the advice of your healthcare provider if you have questions regarding a medical issue.

Breastmilk is the best source of nutrition for babies. It is important that, in preparation for and during breastfeeding, mothers eat a healthy, balanced diet. Combined breast- and bottle-feeding in the first weeks of life may reduce the supply of a mother's breastmilk and reversing the decision not to breastfeed is difficult. If you do decide to use infant formula, you should follow instructions carefully.

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