How you can sleep next to your baby and make sure it’s safe

Though rare, sometimes medical dogma gives way to common sense.

A recent example is exposing infants during their first year to potential allergens (things that cause allergies).

Previously the received wisdom was that babies must be spared exposure to common allergens such as peanuts when they’re very young.

Except millions of African babies are weaned on peanuts and there’s no peanut allergy in Africa. So why not do the same here?

It’s common sense to give babies peanuts earlier in their lives and recent research has proven that this strategy isn’t only good medicine, it’s good for babies.


Turns out it strengthens their immune system.

Another example of the triumph of common sense over medical dogma is co-sleeping, when you have your baby in bed with you.

For decades it’s been frowned upon by health care ­professionals the world over as it was said to heighten the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).

But that ignores the fact more than half the world already takes a baby to bed with no ill effect.

Yes, granted, the Safe Sleep campaign of dos and don’ts has greatly lowered the numbers for SIDS and I’m a keen ­advocate of it. But couldn’t we adopt Safe Sleep criteria for co-sleeping too?

Recently, guidelines for safe co-sleeping were drawn up and they’ll be a godsend for sleep-deprived parents who are forced to take their baby into bed as a last resort.


I wouldn’t recommend my own last resort for a sleepless baby – camping on a bed by the side of the cot to be on hand if the baby cries.

Experts claim a baby co-sleeping can be as safe as they would be if they were sleeping in their cot – but certain ­conditions must prevail.

For mum, she must be a non-smoker, sober and breastfeeding. For baby, they must be healthy, lying on their back, lightly dressed and unswaddled.

And both mum and baby must share a safe surface. That means no sofas, and no armchairs. The flatter the surface the better, so that means a bed.

If you can fulfil these criteria your baby’s risk of SIDS is no greater than in a crib.

So the rules are, if you smoke or you’ve been drinking don’t co-sleep.

No matter how tempting, avoid sleeping cuddled up on the sofa. And if you can’t meet any of these criteria – DON’T do it.