Co-sleeping with a baby in a bed, on a
sofa or in an armchair may lead to cot death, warn Government health advisors.
New draft recommendations from health watchdog National Institute For Clinical Excellence (Nice) warn parents not to fall asleep with their babies until at least they turn one year old as there are increased chances of suffocating them when they are asleep.
The chances are higher when they have consumed alcohol, taken drugs or smoked.
Nice's clinical practice director, Professor Mark Baker, said, "Falling asleep with a baby, whether that's in a bed or on a sofa or chair, is risky. "
He also recognized the fact that some parents choose to share a bed with their baby for easy breastfeeding or for cultural reasons or due to space or money crunch they face.
In England and Wales alone, close to 250 babies die due to sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) in a year.
Though doctors are unable to exactly figure out the cause of SIDS, a clear picture on the risk factors is evolving according to Nice.
As of now, parents are warned not to "co-sleep" with their babies during the risk period that extends up to one year.
Belinda Phipps, chief executive of the National Childbirth Trust, said around half of UK mothers bed-shared with their baby at some point in their first few months. However, she warned exhausted and desperate parents might tend to brush aside the advice.
"Nice guidance needs to reflect this reality. We are concerned that these guidelines will lead to parents hiding the fact that they are bed-sharing, or doing so through desperation or exhaustion without safety strategies in place," she said.
Jenny Ward, head of support and development at the Lullaby Trust, welcomed the new Nice guidance. She suggested babies to be put to sleep on their backs and not on their fronts.
The Nice guidance has been put out for consultation until this month end.