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1.2.8 Safe infant sleeping

Last Modified: 22-Mar-2022 Review Date: 02-Jul-2018

 ‭(Hidden)‬ Legislation


The Department of Communities (the Department) provides information and guidance on safe sleeping practices and the risks associated with co-sleeping to families and carers with infants.

Co-sleeping is where a parent (or any other person) is asleep on the same sleep surface as an infant.  Sleeping on the same surface as an infant up to 12 months of age places them at risk, with infants less than four months of age at most risk.

We work with many families where the risks associated with co-sleeping practices may be increased through substance abuse, smoking and taking medication.

When making assessments, you (child protection workers and Best Beginnings home visitors) must consider the sleeping arrangements of families with babies, both at the families' primary residences and other locations such as the homes of friends or relatives.

When working with a family with an infant, you must advise them about co-sleeping and factors that increase or reduce this risk in the first four weeks of the baby's birth, and, where appropriate, provide information and the following resources:

You may also provide additional information and resources from the SIDS and Kids WA - Safer Sleep  website. 


  • You must advise all parents or carers with infants that co-sleeping increases the  risk to infants, particularly where parents use medication, smoke and have substance use issues, and these issues also increase the risk of Sudden Unexpected Deaths in Infancy (SUDI) and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). 

  • Where you identify these risk factors you must give the parents information about the risks of co-sleeping, and record on file that you gave the information and discussed the risks with the parents.  

Process Maps

Not applicable

Information and Instructions

  • Factors increasing co-sleeping risks
  • Sudden Unexplained Deaths in Infancy
  • Factors increasing co-sleeping risks

    There is evidence that co-sleeping is associated with a greater incidence of SUDI. The risks associated with co-sleeping are increased when:

    • the parent or carer has consumed alcohol or used illicit drugs
    • the parent or carer has taken any medication which may alter consciousness or cause drowsiness
    • either the parent or the carer is a smoker, and/or
    • the mother smoked during pregnancy.

    Other factors that increase the risks associated with co-sleeping include:

    • either the parents or carers are experiencing extreme tiredness to the point where they may find it difficult to respond to the baby
    • sleeping with the baby on any soft surface (for example, on a sofa, couch, waterbed, bean bag or sagging mattress)
    • excessive bedding on the bed (risk of smothering and/or over-heating)
    • the baby is less than 11 weeks of age, and/or
    • the baby is preterm or small for gestational age.

    Sudden Unexplained Deaths in Infancy

    Sudden Unexplained Deaths in Infancy is an umbrella term that refers to a broad category of sudden infant deaths including SIDS, fatal sleep accidents and other types of unexpected deaths such as congenital, infections and trauma. The following recommendations for sleeping a baby safely have all been shown to reduce the risk of the SUDI and should be provided to parents and carers:  

    • Sleep baby on his or her back (medical advice may be needed for babies with a severe disability).

    • Keep baby's head and face uncovered.

    • Keep baby smoke free before and after birth.

    • Provide a safe sleeping environment night and day.

    • Sleep baby in a safe cot in parent's room.

    • Breastfeed baby (while breastfeeding is the ideal way to feed babies, we understand that it is not possible for all mothers).

    To increase knowledge and understanding of safe infant sleeping practices, you should:

    The E-Learning package takes less than an hour to complete and provides useful and current information and interactive learning tools.