Let’s cut straight to the chase: sleeping on the back is the absolute safest position for an infant. It might not seem obvious, but there’s a good reason why.
In fact, sleeping on the back is the single most important action that helps prevent Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). (source)
Experts aren’t exactly sure why sleeping on the back helps prevent SIDS, but evidence from several countries around the world has proven this to be true.
Because of this, babies should always sleep on their backs.
Unfortunately, it can sometimes prove to be difficult to keep them sleeping on their backs all night.
Remember that babies must be placed on their back for every sleep, including short naps. As babies get older, they become stronger and more independent and rapidly gain the ability to roll themselves over in their crib.
While it’s not always possible to keep them sleeping on their backs 100% of the time, there are some steps you can take to make sure that they do so as much as possible, and reduce the risk of them rolling over in their sleep.
Common questions about infant sleeping.
Here are some questions you might be wondering about on the topic of back sleeping. Here are some of the common questions parents have.
Why does back sleeping help reduce SIDS?
Back sleeping helps in a few different ways when compared to sleeping on the stomach.
First of all, when a baby is sleeping on their stomach, there is the risk of suffocation. It also keeps their mouths and noses unblocked, allowing them to breathe in fresh air at all times.
Will my baby choke if he or she vomits while on their back?
While it’s true that babies sometimes spit-up when they are asleep, studies have shown that it is not a choking risk. Babies automatically swallow or choke up fluids, and there is no risk associated with this. (source)
Are babies uncomfortable sleeping on their backs?
While babies do sleep more comfortably and soundly on their stomachs, this is precisely the problem; they will naturally want to roll over from their back onto their stomach.
Not only that, but when they are sleeping so deeply, they may be unable to wake up when they are in danger.
If your baby seems fussy about sleeping on his or her back, don’t worry! They will eventually get used to it if you continue to place them on their back during every sleep.
What if my baby rolls onto their stomach?
The first thing to do is to always pace your baby into his crib or bassinet on his back.
Just continue to do this until your baby reaches the point where they start rolling and choosing their own sleep position.
At that point, simply make sure that there are no pillows or loose blankets that might serve as a choking hazard.
Tips for keeping baby on their back.
Now that you know all of the benefits of having your baby sleep on their back, you might be wonder if there are any special methods that can help.
Luckily, there are a few things that you can to do make sure that your baby stays on their back for as long as possible:
- Swaddling can make baby feel secure while they are asleep. You simply hold them and rock them while in a blanket, and then place them into their crib that way.
- If your baby is only able to roll over one way, you can place them in the crib just a few inches away from the side of the crib that they usually roll onto, rather than the middle of the crib.
- A pediatrician-approved wedge can keep them from wiggling themselves around and ending up on their stomach.
However, there are some things to avoid:
- Never, ever place a pillow behind your baby’s head unless they suffer from a breathing problem or acid reflux. A firm mattress is always optimal for a baby. Always ask your pediatrician for advice!
- Never used loose blankets, stuffed animals, bumper pads, pillows or anything similar in your baby’s crib. These can prove to be a suffocation hazard as well as something to give them leverage to flip themselves over onto their stomach with.
Wrapping it up.
You can’t expect that your baby is going to be completely comfortable laying on their back all the time.
However, they will eventually get used to it if you make sure they do it during every sleep. It’s unreasonable to expect a parent to get up every hour of the night to check on their child.
A baby monitor is another option; these devices allow you to keep an eye on your child even when you are out of the room.
If your baby is being fussy about sleeping on their back, there’s no reason to get upset or panic. Over time, they will probably even learn to enjoy sleeping on their backs as long as you make sure they do it every time.
As always, if you have any questions, feel free to ask us on the comment form below!