The Instagram trend putting babies in danger

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If you've been scrolling through social media lately, you're probably familiar with the following photo: A father, deep asleep, with his baby dozing on his chest.

When we see these kinds of posts, it's easy to coo over how adorable these pictures are.

In fact, these fathers are often hailed as "super dads" for letting mum have a break while clearly exhausted themselves.

But when you really think about it, the problem becomes clear: Falling asleep with a baby on you is not a good idea.

Francis (from Proud Daddy Moments) found that out the hard way.

When his daughter Miranda was six months old, he was working full time and helping with night feeds.

One night, the 42 year-old started drifting off while holding his baby. In the process he almost dropped her - twice.

Famous dad Robbie Williams shared a photo of tiny Theodora Rose sleeping on his chest.

Famous dad Robbie Williams shared a photo of tiny Theodora Rose sleeping on his chest. Photo: Twitter/Robbie Williams

"I was mortified. It was one of the worst feelings that reaches down to your gut."


Thankfully, Francis didn't drop his baby, but he's the first to admit he's one of the lucky ones.

According to Red Nose, there is a very high risk of harm to a baby when they share a sofa or couch with an adult during sleep.

While you may never sit down with the intention of falling asleep with your baby on you, it's easy to see how an exhausted parent plus a soft couch could lead to sleep.

Unintentionally drifting off with a baby is known as "accidental co-sleeping" or "reactive co-sleeping," says midwife Amanda Bude from Groovy Babies.

And the issue doesn't just relate to dads, but also sleep-deprived mums and carers.

Unfortunately, it's extremely common, with up to 60 percent of families doing it "in some way or another" in the first six months of a babies life.

"It happens when parents are on the verge of exhaustion."

If a parent nods off with their baby on their chest, Amanda says the baby is at risk of falling off, suffocating or getting trapped - any of which can be deadly.

Nicole Ovens is the operations manager at CPR kids and has paediatric intensive care experience.

While she says Red Nose states that sleeping a baby on their tummy on their parent's chest is an "excellent strategy" for settling an infant, that's only the case if the baby is being observed.

If that person then falls asleep, the baby's airway can become obstructed.

Falling asleep with a baby on you is clearly problematic, but Amanda also worries that by liking and sharing these pictures online, we're encouraging such behaviour.

"We seem to swoon at the bare-chested dad with the gorgeous newborn asleep on the chest like David Beckham, Robbie Williams [and so on]."

Instead of fawning over such pictures, Amanda warns against "over-romanticising" these images.

Sure, they look sweet. But the risks of a parent being asleep while holding a baby are just too great.

To overcome the risk of falling asleep with your baby on you, Amanda suggests calling in support in the form of another adult who can take over for a while.

Alternatively, she suggests setting up a mattress on the floor and putting your baby next to you if you're tired, rather than on your chest.

If you're holding your baby, Nicole says you should commit to putting your baby back in their bassinet the moment you start to feel yourself nodding off.

She also advises organising some company for when you're soothing your baby - either by having someone there with you in person, or at least over the phone.

If you're looking for other ways to settle your baby, Amanda suggests going for a walk outside, using a baby carrier or using white noise.

But if you find baby settles best on your (or dad's chest), then by all means, enjoy the beautiful moment of bonding.

Just don't let the adult caring for baby get so relaxed in the process, they fall asleep too.

As Nicole says, "The blanket rule should be: baby's safety always comes first."