When Should You Allow Your Baby To Sleep On Their Back?

Today we wanted to talk about sleep positions for your baby and specifically about the benefits of sleeping your child on their back. So, when should you allow your baby to sleep on their backs at night and nap time? Well, the fast answer is: always and as often as possible. According to many studies, and most recently by the National Institute of Child Health And Human Development, the safest position for your full term healthy baby to be sleeping at all occasions is on their back. We will dive more into this further on in the article but for now we wanted to ask you to share your tips and/or struggles with getting your little ones to sleep, especially on their backs and how you overcame those obstacles! We’d love to hear from you. 

Back To Basics: The Best For Your Child’s Safety (And Your Peace Of Mind)

In order to reduce the risk of SIDS, experts say that you should put your baby to sleep on their back at all times, for every nap and at night. This ensures that your child’s airway is free and clear and that they have minimal chance of getting an airway obstruction. To help further increase your child’s safety during sleep, it’s also recommended that they sleep on a firm sleeping mattress made for newborns with fitted sheets. Avoid using blankets, pillows, bumpers, or stuffed animals as they can become suffocation hazards for your baby. Make sure that the crib or bassinet is stable and has high sides to keep the baby from rolling out during sleep. 

Is It Ever Safe For My Baby to Sleep on Their Side Or Tummy?

Yes! The rule of thumb is that you should put your baby to sleep on their back for all sleep. If your baby or young child can roll to their tummy or side on their own and they can do it consistently, it is generally safe to allow them to sleep in these positions, so long as they are unswaddled and not younger than 3 months old (babies under 3 months often lack the necessary core muscles for it to be safe to sleep on their tummies). Babies are often learning to roll around 5-6 months of age and this is commonly the time when they will naturally want to begin to sleep on their tummy or side consistently.

When considering allowing your baby to sleep on their tummy or side, ask yourself these questions:

  1. Are they 5 months or older?
  2. Can they consistently roll from their BACK to their TUMMY (not tummy to back, there is a big difference)?
  3. Do they exhibit proper core strength? Can they lift their head up appropriately and turn it from side to side freely and easily?

Aren’t Children Who Sleep On Their Backs That Have Reflux At Slightly Greater Risk For Choking?

If your child, like many others, suffers from moderate to severe stomach reflux, then you may be worried that they could reflux in their sleep and accidently asphyxiate while on their back. This does sound logical, but studies have shown that a baby who refluxes while sleeping on their back is actually safer and less likely to choke when compared to a baby who is sleeping on their side or tummy during a reflux incident, according to a National Institute of Child Health And Human Development study. This is primarily because of how the trachea is shaped. When a baby is on their side or tummy, the fluids can get trapped in the throat and cause asphyxiation. 

Remind Your Caregivers About How to Put Your Baby Down To Sleep.

If you’re having your parents or your in-laws watch over your newborn or child under 12 months of age, you will want to remind them to place your child into the crib on their back as opposed to on their side or stomach. If they are of rolling age, let them know that you have observed your child sleeping on their side or tummy and it is safe for them to sleep like this.

In Conclusion

Caring for a newborn is no small feat. We are here to help and want to make the process as easy as possible. We hope these tips have helped you along your journey. If you have any questions about helping your baby to sleep better, finding adequate and professional newborn care help, or about your baby in general, please reach out to us HERE. We are experts in all things baby and sleep and would love to help!

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The content contained in this blog is for informational and educational purposes only. It is not intended as medical advice or to replace the advice of any medical professional. It is based on our opinions and experience working with newborns and their families. Other’s opinions may vary. It does not represent the views of any affiliated organizations. The reader understands that the term “Babynurse” is often a word used to describe a newborn caregiver. However, unless otherwise disclosed, we are not licensed nurses in any state. By reading and/or utilizing any information or suggestions contained in this blog, the reader acknowledges that we are not medical professionals and agrees to and waives any claim, known or unknown, past, present or future. This blog may contain affiliate links.
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