Having regularly attended training led by Baby Sleep Info Source (BASIS) I was really pleased to see their announcement in March 2023 regarding the changes to the NHS guidance around safe sleep and bedsharing.
This guidance has finally been updated to reflect NICE guidance in GB. This means that the NHS website has now removed their previous advice 'never to bedshare.'
They have replaced this with information about what constitutes as hazardous bedsharing as well as what constitutes as safe bedsharing which NICE recommended in 2014!'
Be safe if you share a bed with your baby:
If you share a bed with your baby (co-sleeping), you should:
make sure they sleep on a firm, flat mattress lying on their back
not have any pillows or duvets near them
not have other children or pets in the bed at the same time
It's important not to share a bed with your baby if they had a low birthweight (less than 2.5kg or 5.5lb) or if you or your partner:
smoke (no matter where or when you smoke and even if you never smoke in bed)
have had 2 or more units of alcohol
have taken recreational drugs
have taken medicine that causes drowsiness
The Lullaby Trust stand by their advice that 'the safest place for a baby to sleep is in their own clear, flat, separate sleep space, such as a cot or Moses basket' but add that they know 'many parents find themselves co-sleeping whether they mean to or not'. Therefore they 'recommend making your bed a safer place for baby', and in addition include that it is important to 'consider any risks before every sleep', as: "It is easy for your situation to change if you are unwell or have drunk any alcohol, which means your baby will be safest in a separate sleep space such as a cot or Moses basket on that occasion.
The research shows that many, in fact 75% of parents will end up bedsharing at some point in their parenting journey. For years NHS practitioners have been put in a very difficult position because they know that many of the parents they are working with would bedshare at some point, yet they were not able to offer any guidance around it, except to say not to do it.
The fact that the NHS website now offers advice for safer bedsharing is a great step in the right direction, it opens up the conversation for so many families and means families no longer need to feel guilty for making an informed choice about bedsharing.
For me, there is still more progress to make in this area. I think it is crucial that rather than the NHS having blanket statements like, 'It's important not to share a bed with your baby if they had a low birthweight (less than 2.5kg or 5.5lb) that we consider there will be families who will need to bedshare with a premature baby. In such situations, it is crucial that these families are provided with the information that they need in order to bedshare as safely as possible.