What is the best sleeping position for a baby to sleep?
Yes, the baby’s sleep position is essential as it is associated with the baby’s safety.
You can not let your baby sleep in any position as it might lead to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). And I’m sure you do not want it because the baby’s health and security are your top priority, isn’t it?
It is essential for you to understand the best sleeping position for the baby to avoid any kind of risk.
Let’s start with, best sleeping position for the baby to sleep.
What is the Best Sleeping Position for the Baby after Feeding?
Sleeping on the back is the best newborn baby sleeping position day, night, and even after feeding. Even, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends putting the baby to sleep on his back as it is the safest position. Especially for the newborn.
You must be wondering, why sleeping on the back is best?
First, putting your baby to sleep on the back lessens the chances of Sudden Infant Health Syndrome. As it is suggested that babies or infants who sleep on their stomach/prone get less oxygen and won’t be able to get rid of carbon dioxide completely.
This is because your baby might be rebreathing the air from the pores of the bed, which are present around the baby’s nose. Though, there is no exact evidence for the same.
Second, it is being suggested by some studies that some regions of the baby’s brain are underdeveloped who die because of SIDS. And if the baby finds it himself in a challenging situation during sleep, he automatically might fail to wake up and take a step back in order to ignore the danger.
Hence, due to the unbreakable bond between the sleeping position of the baby and SIDS, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends putting the baby to sleep on their back.
Although, if your baby is dealing with specific medical conditions, then sleeping on the back could be the exception, however, discuss the same with the doctor. To be noted, do not put the baby on sleep on the side or stomach unless advised by the doctor.
This begs a question, till when you should put the baby to sleep on the back?
Well, you have to put the baby to sleep back in the first year of the baby’s life. Though, it is specifically, important during the first 4-6 months of the baby’s life. Because during this phase, the risk of SIDS is high.
I must tell you, your baby is going to retaliate, but you have to make sure to put the baby on sleep on his back.
Next, no doubt, sleeping on the back is important, but you also have to let your baby enjoy tummy time. As tummy time will help in the development of the shoulder muscles as well as enhance head control. That is essential for sitting and walking.
Though during tummy time, you have to watch your tot, hence do not leave him unattended. With that, also avoid flat spots on the back of the baby’s head.
For that you can use best baby head shaping pillow.
Everything has its own shortcoming, so as sleeping on the back, here you go.
If your baby sleeps on the back for a long time it might result in “positional plagiocephaly” that is, flat and misshapen head, and “brachycephaly” that is flattening the back of the skull.
However, the baby’s head shape becomes normal as baby reaches the 1 year.
Rarely, it needs to be treated with the Simple Repositioning Technique.
How to Prevent Baby Flat Head and other Head Shaping Issues?
To prevent this situation, you can,
- Enhance the tummy time of the baby, when he is not sleeping
- Lessen the time of the baby spending in the baby carrier and car seat
- Cuddle with baby more
- Allow your baby to rest on others position instead of flathead, rest not sleeping
- Change the baby’s direction in the crib, to allow the baby to see other things rather than view a specific thing
- Change baby’s head position when the baby is sleeping
- Hold your baby often
Also Check: How to make baby skin fair naturally? (14 Tips!)
How about Baby Sleeping on the Stomach/Prone Position?
So far, I have already mentioned why the baby should not sleep on the stomach. Let’s discuss why to discourage the baby to sleep on the stomach,
- It put pressure on the baby’s jaw
- Restrict the airways and breathing
- If the mattress is very soft, the baby can suffocate while sleeping
- Baby can breathe from the pores or microbes present in the mattress
- Sleeping on the back is termed as prone position. This can result in breathing the same air if the baby’s face is very close to the mattress
As I said, under some medical condition you are allowed to put the baby to sleep on their stomach, these are:
- Not all but few physicians believe that if the baby has severe gastroesophageal reflux and particular upper airways malformations such as Pierre Robin Syndrome it can lead to acute airways obstruction episodes. Though, no recent studies or evidence is available for the same, so you have to consider the benefits and shortcoming of the same.
- Then comes a reason for putting the baby to sleep on the stomach which is gas. Yes, putting the baby to sleep on the stomach is helpful in providing relief from the gas pain. So here you got the best sleeping position for the baby with gas. Additionally, do not put the baby to sleep on the stomach right after feeding him. In the short keep time gap between sleep and feed time.
- Then comes some people who argue that putting the baby to sleep on stomach prevents the danger of vomiting, it simply means it is dangerous for the baby if he vomits during sleep as it might choke the baby as babies can not turn their head due to lack of strength. Though, babies sleeping on the back, might not face many issues in turning their heads to vomit the content out. On the other hand, Red Rose Organisation claims that sleeping on the stomach increases the chances of inhaling the vomit into the baby’s airways and lungs.
All you need is to consult the same with your doctor.
Also check: When Does Baby Skin Color Stop Changing?
How about Baby Sleeping on the Side?
Okay, so here it goes, if you are thinking of putting the baby to sleep on his side, stop right now!
Because in doing so your baby eventually ends up sleeping on his tummy. That comes with the risk of SIDS. The risk for SIDS is highest in the first 3 months but choking can happen at any age especially till the toddler age.
Also, it is a myth that side sleeping can prevent choking. So baby of 3 months (or any age) sleeping on the side should be avoided.
So, sleeping on the side is a BIG NO.
What to do if the Baby Face Issues in Sleeping on the Back?
If that’s the case then it is very normal, you do not have to freak out.
As some infants might face difficulty in deep sleeping in the back position and some become fussy.
And if your baby has a congested nose, she would not be comfortable sleeping on the back. If that’s the case you can use a humidifier that will moisten the room and loosen the congestion. You can also elevate the baby’s head to provide relief from the congested nose.
What if Baby is Sleeping on the Chest of the Mother?
If you are in any way thinking of putting your baby to sleep on the chest it is a NO.
I know, putting the baby to sleep on the chest of the parent is a way of showing their love but hey, it could be harmful to the baby.
So, a baby sleeping on the chest of the mother or father is not at all safe and a good idea. One of the reasons behind this is SIDS.
I know, you might hear that many people let their baby sleep on their chest but trust me it could be dangerous. As it does not only result in SIDS but it also can enhance the risk of accidents and suffocation.
Ahh! I’m not saying you are a careless parent, not at all.
But all I mean is that if you fall asleep while having your baby on your chest then there are chances of accidents, even suffocation.
You can never predict, what would your baby love, and if he loves sleeping on your chest then here this is what you can do,
- Swaddle the baby, as the baby was living in your womb for so long. He is used to and comfortable in that environment by swaddling him you can provide him the same comfort
- You can try the Rock-N-Play technique for a baby younger than 4 months. However, your baby might get used to this and you would have to face issues later. Though, this method is not the safest as it is not flat and firm
- You can also try out the sleep training programs like Sleep Miracle, if your baby is below 4 months this might work.
- As your baby does not know the distinction between the varied surface which enable him to sleep on any surface
- Dock-A Tot is also one of the other techniques you can try, as some babies find their crib spacious to sleep and they prefer to sleep on your chest. This will allow you and your baby to share the bed
- A heartbeat noise machine would also be the best option to let your baby sleep. As your baby is been hearing your heartbeat for past months. And this could be the reason why he loves sleeping on your chest. For this, you can buy a heartbeat noise machine
At last, I would say, do not let your baby sleep or co-sleep on your chest. Not even when you are tired neither if your baby is prematurely born.
Also read: 16 Challenges First-Time Parents Face While Taking Care of the Baby (+Solution)!
What You Have to Do to Make Your Baby Sleep in a Comfortable Position?
Your baby is going to retaliate, but you have to make sure to put the baby on sleep on his back.
- Put the baby to sleep on a firm crib mattress covered with the sheet is the safest thing.
- Additionally, do not put the baby to sleep on the very soft and porous surface, such as the pillow, sheepskins, beanbags, sofas, comforters, quilts, and more. Use a sleeping bed.
- Also, do not put any soft toys, and materials in the crib and where the baby sleep as it might suffocate the baby, if burrows the baby’s face
- To keep the baby asleep on the back, you have to enable the baby to sleep on the back right from day one from his birth. Simply follow a routine
- Before using a pacifier wait until the breastfeeding established it usually takes 3-4 weeks of age
- To reduce the risk of SIDS, you can use pacifiers. That does not mean, you have to force your baby to keep it in his mouth if pacifiers fall off the baby’s mouth while sleeping and the baby does not want it
- If your baby learns how to roll himself, he/she will find out his own sleeping style. That is not good, so you have to gently turn him on his back while he is horrifically snoring, just kidding
- Do not put the baby to sleep in the AC, heating vents, near open windows, and other drafts surface. You can try the baby room heater.
- To keep the baby warm use sleep clothing without cover, you can use a wearable blanket sleeper and sleepsack for an additional layer
- Smoking near the baby and in the baby’s room could also be the reason for suffocation
- Check whether the baby is overheating or not, as it could be dangerous too
- Immunize your baby, as it can lessen the SIDS mortality
- If your baby sleeps in a separate room, you can use a baby monitor to keep an eye on him. Though, I would advise you to share the room with the baby, not the bed
- Do not share the bed with your baby, especially, if you drink, smoke, under medication, etc. As these can induce deep sleep and enhance the chance of SIDS and suffocation
So far, you must have understood what you have to do or whatnot, right?
Though it is tough, nothing is more essential than the safety of the baby. Additionally, do not fall for the products claiming to lessen the risk of SIDS, as the safety of wedges, positioners, etc is not proven, yet.
All you have to do is to put your baby to sleep on his back.