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Adults sometimes fall asleep with babies on sofas. This can be very hazardous.

Taking your baby out of the bedroom to feed or settle, fetch a bottle, or avoid disturbing a partner or other children could lead to you falling asleep on a chair or sofa with baby in your arms or on your chest. When you are staying away from home you may find yourself sleeping in make-shift beds such as sofas and bean-bags.

Sleeping with a baby on a sofa, armchair, or make-shift bed can be very dangerous for babies because the risk of suffocation, or becoming trapped, is much greater than in a bed. Babies can become wedged between a parent’s body and the back of a couch or the arm of a chair and the weight of the adult’s body can prevent them from breathing.

Sleeping with your baby on a sofa also puts your baby at a greatly increased risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.

  • A recent UK study (conducted between 2003 and 2006) found that 16% of SIDS babies had died while sleeping with an adult on a sofa. In comparison, only 1% of the control babies (a matched-comparison group of babies who did not die) slept on a sofa with an adult. ?

Hazardous cosleeping environments and risk factors amenable to change: case-control study of SIDS in south west England. Blair et al, 2009.

This increase has happened at a time when SIDS deaths in all other environments have been falling (associated with parents placing their babies to sleep on their backs instead of their fronts). It may be due to an increase in parents choosing to feed and settle babies on the sofa rather than in the parents’ bed.

Mother–Infant Sleep Locations and Nighttime Feeding Behavior U.S. Data from the Survey of Mothers’ Sleep and Fatigue, Kendall-Tackett et al, 2010.

Sofa Sharing

The sofa is the only sleep environment in which SIDS deaths have increased in recent years

The average chance of SIDS in England and Wales is 1 in 3,300, but the chance of SIDS while co-sleeping on a sofa is 1 in 180. We therefore strongly encourage you to avoid co-sleeping with your baby in hazardous locations such as on a sofa.

For more detailed information on the research and hazards involved with sofa-sharing see our Health Practitioners pages.