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

Sleeping with a baby on a sofa or an armchair can be very dangerous for babies because the risk of suffocation, or becoming trapped, is much greater on a sofa or arm-chair 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.

  • 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.

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.

The sofa is the only sleep environment in which SIDS deaths have increased in recent years, up from 6% in 1993-6 to 16% in 2003-6.

This represents an increase from 24 to 42 deaths per year.

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