Babies should sleep in their own beds and not yours, warns Northamptonshire health chief
Even sharing sofa with a new-born increases risk of tragedy for parents
Public Health chiefs are issuing fresh warnings over the dangers of sleeping with your baby.
Medical research has shown that sleeping in the same bed or sharing the same sofa with as your new-born can increase the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.
SIDS is the most common cause behind unexplained death in otherwise healthy infants under 12 months old.
In 2017, a Northampton coroner heard a harrowing tale of how a 25-day-old baby girl died in her mother's arms after they fell asleep together while sat up in bed.
Lucy Wightman, Director of Public Health Northamptonshire, said: “Bringing home a new baby is exciting, but can also be overwhelming.
"Following NHS advice and guidelines can help you minimise any risk and give your baby the best start in life.
"As well as a higher risk of SIDS, there's also a risk you might roll over in your sleep and suffocate your baby. Or your baby could get caught between the wall and the bed, or roll out of an adult bed and be injured.
"The safest place for your baby to sleep for the first six months is in a cot in the same room as you.
"In addition, parents should also be mindful of falling asleep with a baby on the sofa. It's lovely to have your baby with you for a cuddle or a feed, but sleeping on a sofa or armchair is also linked to a higher risk of SIDS.
"The safest thing to do is to always put your baby back in their cot to sleep.
"It is important to be aware that the overall risk of SIDS is very small and that it is a rare condition. However, following these simple steps can help reduce the risk and keep your baby safe.
Around 200 babies die suddenly and unexpectedly in the UK every year, usually while sleeping.
NHS guidelines also warn it is especially important not to share a bed with your baby if you or your partner are smokers – no matter where or when you smoke and even if you never smoke in bed – have recently drunk alcohol or taken medication or drugs that make you sleep more heavily
The risks from co-sleeping are also increased if your baby was premature or had a low birth weight, below 5½lb.
More guidance and advice on reducing the risk of SIDS can be found at nhs.uk/conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/reducing-risk-cot-death/ while Public Health fund a project run by qualified and experienced early years professionals called Strong Start to provide support and advice to families with children under five.