is the baby sleeping position that best protects your little one from
(Sudden Infant Death
Syndrome, also called cot or crib death).
Back to Sleep
campaigns in the late 80s-early 90s made
a huge effort to advise parents to put their babies to sleep on their
backs. They were very successful;
number of SIDS cases has decreased tremendously
Before that, it was believed that putting babies on
their stomach at night was safer as on the back was thought to lead to
aspiration problems. No
evidence was found for this though.
On the contrary, lying on the stomach is when breathing can more
Not all babies have the strength or reflex to lift
their head when necessary which can be life-threatening. Also sleeping
on the side must be avoided.
On The Back is THE single recommended baby sleeping position.
Some situations require extra caution:
When two or more risk factors are
combined the odds get worse. A
premature or light-weight that does not sleep on her back is at
When having gotten used to
always lying on
the back and then being put on the stomach gives an extra high risk of
Putting your little one
on the side
to sleep is
either. She can
easily roll onto her stomach. Any wedges or other fixing systems to
keep baby in any one position can be dangerous. Baby can get stuck or
There is a specific medical condition,
that will require baby to be on
her belly when sleeping. Evidently you'll do this only following professional
to keep baby on her back
Until your baby is strong enough to easily roll back and forth from back to tummy, you might want to gently turn your baby back on her back when you notice she's rolled over.
Once your baby rolls back and forth easily, you will still want to put her on the back to sleep whenever first placing her in the crib. Some parents stay near and resolve to keep turning them around. Most experts agree though that this isn't necessary (see external links below).
, you will be near your baby (supervise
closely or sleep in the same room) to monitor carefully. That is
especially advised in the first year, either with baby in her own crib or
cosleeping safely. This way you automatically
monitor your baby and can roll her over when necessary.
or wearable blanket
can help encourage some babies to remain on their backs when sleeping, especially a slightly heavier one like the
Sleeping Bag 2.5 tog
It makes it slightly more difficult to
roll over. Of course make sure you get the right (safe) size for your baby and always coordinate with the room
temperature to avoid getting too hot.
A sleeping bag also keeps your little one covered without the risk of
sliding under it with her head.
I advise against the use of a blanket, sheet, quilt, comforter or similar as they are not deemed safe with respect to SIDS risk. I always advise sleeping bags or wearable blankets.
Do NOT use a
or any type of "holding" wedges. They are not safe.
How to keep baby asleep on her back
Many parents notice that their
more easily wakes when she sleeps
on her back
. Her sleep seems light most of the time. Many
babies often wave their arms in their sleep and wake themselves up like
It is true that many
when on their stomach
The reason is that they often go into a deeper sleep (which is
why the SIDS risk increases).
So, as much as we want quiet and long naps and nights, it's
As their child grows and becomes stronger (beyond 6 months), parents do
report placing their babies on their stomach for better naps and nights.
To be on the safest side, I don't recommend this. Definitely avoid it
if your baby has any of the higher
and make sure you are around to check on in on her
very regularly. Always consult your doctor when in doubt.
having your baby spend time on her stomach,
is the standard method
help develop motor skills
Research has suggested that certain motor skills develop later since
the recommended baby sleeping position became "on the back" ...
The skills do develop, only a bit later. The choice between putting
life at risk or develop motor skills a bit later is easily made.
That said, it is still a good idea to have
play on her tummy
when she is awake to practice those
Dr Alexander, M.D.
advises to link tummy time with an activity you do frequently, like for example changing the diaper. Start with say 1-2 minutes of tummy time after each diaper change after the 2 week old visit, then allow longer periods as your baby tolerates it.
Heidi Holvoet, PhD, is the founder of the Baby Sleep Advice website and movement, an award-winning author, baby & toddler sleep consultant with 14+ years experience as well as a certified lactation counselor.
Over the years, Heidi has received several awards inluding a Mom's Choice Award (MCA) and National Parenting Awards (NAPPA) for her Baby Sleep Advice website, programs and books.
She is also a member of the Association of Professional Sleep Consultants of which she was one of the earliest contributors. She obtained her PhD degree in physics at the University of Ghent in Belgium.
Heidi is passionate about helping babies and their parents sleep more and better, with her trademark approach that has been proven and praised time and again by parents worldwide to be effective and truly no-tears. Respect for you as a parent and your baby, is at the heart of Heidi's warm and kind support. Her approach always keeps in mind a baby's needs and abilities at any given age, is based on pediatric science and the most up to date knowledge in infant care and sleep science.