Newborn Sleeping Positions

It can all be very confusing. Put the baby on her tummy, no her side, no her back. Over the years, we’ve been told many different things about sleeping positions for babies. Here’s the scoop, from my perspective, anyway.

Years ago, it was common practice for babies to sleep on their stomachs. And, there was good reason – babies sleep more soundly on their tummies than in any other position. Most of us were put to sleep on our stomachs, and we turned out fine, right?

But, now we have a little more information. Putting your baby to sleep on her back or side can reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) by as much as 50 percent. Therefore, most pediatricians will recommend that you put the baby to sleep on her back from the beginning. There were a few years there where doctors recommended that babies sleep on their sides, as this not only reduces the risk of SIDS, but also reduces the risk that the child might choke on her vomit if she spits up (which, by the way, is rare). But, today most doctors say the back or side is fine – it’s really hard to keep a newborn on her side.

If your baby fusses a lot when sleeping on her back, try swaddling her, or try putting her on her side with a rolled up blanket for support. For many babies, this is enough to make them comfortable. If your baby is sleeping on her back, do be sure to give her some waking time on her tummy, to help with muscle development, and to give her a new perspective on life!

Now, all that said, if your baby is really having a hard time sleeping on her back, talk to your pediatrician about having the baby sleep on her stomach. If your baby is healthy, your doctor may say it’s ok to put her to sleep on her stomach, as long as the mattress is firm. In addition, babies with respiratory problems, upper airway malformations, and babies who spit up a lot, may actually be safer on their tummies.

Each baby is different, and you have to treat them as such. Sleeping on the back is the guideline, but with your doctor’s help, you should evaluate your baby, and her sleeping habits, individually. Keep in mind that in a few months your baby will begin turning over, and will choose her favorite position on her own.

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