Babies should be sharing a room with their parents for at least the first six months, and ideally until they're a year old, according to new safe sleep recommendations issued today by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).

But babies should not be sharing a bed with Mom and Dad, the group representing U.S. pediatricians warns.

“We know that parents may be overwhelmed with a new baby in the home, and we want to provide them with clear and simple guidance on how and where to put their infant to sleep,” said Rachel Moon, MD, FAAP, lead author of the latest report on best practise infant sleeping. The AAP's new recommendations are based on 63 sleep studies published since the last sleep policy paper came out in 2011.

“We want to share this information in a way that doesn’t scare parents but helps to explain the real risks posed by an unsafe sleep environment,” said Dr. Moon. “We know that we can keep a baby safer without spending a lot of money on home monitoring gadgets but through simple precautionary measures.”

1. The AAP recommends room-sharing but not co-sleeping: Parents should sleep in the same room as their babies but not in the same bed. Why? Studies have shown room-sharing can reduce SIDS risk up to 50 percent -- plus it makes it easier to feed, comfort and monitor your baby.

2. Avoid placing your baby to sleep on a couch or armchair.

“Parents should never place the baby on a sofa, couch, or cushioned chair, either alone or sleeping with another person. We know that these surfaces are extremely hazardous,” said Dr. Moon. Couches and recliners pose the highest risk of suffocation or entrapment, says the AAP. If you're going to feed your baby at night (or when you feel sleepy) best to do it in bed, in case you fall asleep. Always return your baby to their cot once you've finished

3. Put babies to sleep on their backs.

You may be worried that their quality of sleep won't be as good as side lying positions. However, this is the recommendation from AAP in order to avoid suffocation or SIDS. However once a baby can roll over from back to stomach (usually around 4 to 6 months of age), it’s okay to allow him or her to stay that way.

4. Baby cardio-respiratory devices do not help in the prevention of SIDS.
The AAP report states that these machines (designed to monitor your baby's breathing levels) do not help in the prevention of SIDS.

5. Keep your baby’s sleep environment free of any additional items
Keep pillows, quilts, comforters, sheepskins, soft or loose bedding, soft mattress toppers and plush animals out of baby’s sleep area. If you have a mobile dangling over the cot, make sure it's well clear of your baby's grasp.

6. Don’t use car seats, strollers, swings, infant carriers or infant slings for routine sleep at home.

These devices are fine to be used whilst in the car etc), and it’s okay if your baby temporarily nods off in them. What you want to avoid is placing your baby in them specifically to sleep, and leaving him or her alone. Babies (especially those under 4 months old) have poor head control, and sleeping in the sitting position can block their airways; in car seats, unbuckled or partially-buckled straps can pose a strangulation risk. When your baby inevitably does falls asleep in a car seat, move him or her to a safe sleeping environment as soon as you can.