While the co-sleeping debate rages on, recent reportsbaby-sleeping from both the UK and the US reveal that more parents share a bed with their babies than we might believe. It’s estimated that around half of parents let their infants into their beds now and again. Statistics on full-time co-sleepers vary depending on where you look: believed to be anywhere between 15 and 30 percent of parents.

I’m completely and utterly in favour of co-sleeping. It’s how I was brought up, and it has worked well for my own two children. My son is now 5 and he shared my bed pretty much as soon as we got home from the maternity ward. He looked so tiny and lost in the moses basket, plus he wanted to feed on the hour, every hour. My gut feeling told me that it was the right thing to do, so in the bed he came and there he stayed for the next 2 years.

Naturally, I was worried about making the transition into his own bed, but it turned out to be super easy. Before he was 3 he was going to sleep in his “big boy bed” every night without a single tear, plea or cross word. The transition is proving to be a little trickier where his little sister (almost 3) is involved but hey, you can’t have everything…

I’ve heard plenty of positive co-sleeping stories from other parents, but a huge number of people (including health professionals and parenting experts) do not support the practice. A report was released earlier this month on the connection between co-sleeping and SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome), and it makes for sobering reading. According to the team lead by Professor Robert Carpenter from London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, babies who sleep in their parents’ beds are more likely to die of SIDS than babies who sleep alone.

So going with your instinct is one thing, but it’s really important to consider the research and know the facts in order to make the right decision for your baby. Safety has to be your paramount consideration. Here are my 10 top tips for safe co-sleeping:

1. Don’t smoke, drink or take mind-altering drugs (illegal, prescription or over the counter) before co-sleeping.

2. Never let other children or pets in the bed you’re sharing with baby.

3. Do not co-sleep on a couch, recliner, chaise long…anything other than a bed is a no-no.

4. Do not co-sleep if you suffer from a sleep disorder, are an extremely deep sleeper, obese or severely sleep-deprived.

5. Use the right kind of bedding for your infant. Even a regular adult’s duvet is too heavy and thick for a baby. Think of what you would use if your baby was in her crib and recreate this in your own bed. If this doesn’t work for you, co-sleeping isn’t for you!

6. Replace a soft mattress with a firmer one. Basically, anything that a baby can sink into is out of the question.

7. Only co-sleep if you and your partner are equally in favour of it. If either of you has doubts, this could lead to anxiety and sleep problems.

8. Breast feed your baby. Many studies have shown that breast feeding results in safer co-sleeping than bottle feeding.

9. Make sure your baby ALWAYS sleeps on his back. This is the safest sleeping position and reduces the risk of SiDS.

10. Eliminate all potential hazards. Check that the bed is flush against the wall with no gaps or spaces for your baby to fall down. If this isn’t possible, pull the bed right away from the wall. A low bed will make a fall less of a catastrophe, and obviously the bigger the bed, the better.

Claire Gillespie is co-founder of StorkUp.com where parents can discover, share and buy the best products for their children.