To provide information and practice guidance to staff on safe infant sleeping practices and the risks of co-sleeping where the Department of Communities (the Department) has an ongoing role working with families and carers with infants.
The Department is aware of the risks associated with co-sleeping and provides guidance to families and carers to avoid these risks and safely care for their children.
Co-sleeping is the practice of a parent (or any other person) being asleep on the same sleep surface as an infant.
Infants up to 12 months of age are at risk, with those less than four months at most risk.
We work with many families where the risks associated with co-sleeping practices may be increased due to factors such as substance abuse, smoking and being on medication.
As part of making assessments, child protection workers and Best Beginnings home visitors need to consider the sleeping arrangements of families with babies, both at the families' primary residences and other sleep locations such as the homes of friends or relatives.
When working with a family with an infant, child protection workers and Best Beginnings home visitors advise about co-sleeping and factors that increase or reduce this risk. Child protection workers and Best Beginnings home visitors must do this in the first four weeks of the baby's birth (where involved), and, where appropriate, provide information and the following resources:
Child protection workers and Best Beginnings home visitors may also provide the family with additional information and resources from the SIDS and Kids WA - Safer Sleep website.
There is evidence that co-sleeping is associated with a greater incidence of SUDI. The risks associated with co-sleeping are increased when:
Other factors that increase the risks associated with co-sleeping include:
SUDI is an umbrella term that refers to a broad category of sudden infant deaths including Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (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 to reduce risk:
* Medical advice may be needed for babies with a severe disability.
** While breastfeedng 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, child protection workers and Best Beginnings home visitors should:
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