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Different Baby Sleeping Positions & Risks Involved

Is it not funny how babies can fall asleep at any place and any time. Whether the AC is on or off, whether they have a pillow or not, whether they sleep on a bed or a mat – new born sleeping is a phenomenon that can occur anywhere! They don't even care if they are on their back or tummy. 

But certain baby sleeping positions are risky and unsafe for infants. Thus, as a parent, you need to be vigilant the first few months about how your baby sleeps. This article will talk about newborn sleep position, safe baby sleeping positions and the risks involved. 

Sleeping On The Back – Why Is It The Safest Position?

 While there is no concrete evidence on this, some researchers and experts believe that sleeping on the back is the safest position for infants. It is difficult for little babies who do not have neck control yet to lift their heads if they have difficulty breathing in case of baby sleeping position on stomach. In addition, if a cover or bedding gets over their head or covers their nose, they will not be able to take the cover off their nose to breathe comfortably. 

Sleeping on the tummy can also hinder breathing properly as there will be pressure on the lungs, and the blood circulation will also be affected. This can result in SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) or an underdeveloped brain. 

Sleeping on the back can avoid all this, thus making a safe newborn sleeping position(1). Even doctors and experts believe it to be the safest baby sleeping position. 

Safe Baby Sleep Positions & Tips For Low Risk Of SIDS

Here are some tips and a few sleeping positions that can help you reduce or eliminate the chance of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome). It can be a bit of additional work for the first three months, but a little extra vigilance towards the baby sleeping position is nothing for their safety!

  • -Make sure the baby sleeps on a firm surface. Avoid making them sleep on surfaces such as pillows, quilts, bundles, sheets etc. Their bed or crib should be a flat surface with fitted sheers that do not come off quickly with a bit of tug or pull from your baby. 
  • -It is safer to keep your baby's sleeping bed/crib separate. Many parents prefer co-sleeping with their baby, but for the initial few months, to avoid SIDS, it is advised to let the baby sleep in their bed near the parents' bed. 
  • -Don't give baby blankets for the initial few weeks or at least three months. Make them wear an extra layer or control the room's temperature instead. Even in the safest baby sleeping position, your baby can have the blanket over their face and find it difficult to breathe and unable to remove it independently. 
  • -Consider investing in a baby video monitor for their nap times or even night sleep for the initial weeks. 
  • -Try swaddling your baby in a soft and breathable wrap such as SuperBottoms Baby Swaddle till your baby does not learn to roll over. 

Flat Head Sleeping

As a parent, you must have heard a million times about your child's risk of developing a flat head if the infant sleeping position is constantly on the back. While it is true that babies are born with a soft skull and sleeping on the back for longer durations can cause changing the shape of the head and cause it to flatten from the back, it is also true that this is not harmful or permanent. 

You can avoid this by giving them some supervised time on their tummy, carrying them in a wrap or sling for a few times a day and avoiding feeding them while on their back. 

Side Sleeping And Torticollis Risk

You might not have heard this term a lot as a new parent, but this is a common condition for grown-ups and babies. For example, have you ever woken up with shooting pain and sprain in your neck due to using the wrong pillow or the wrong sleeping position? That is what torticollis is. The usual baby sleeping position, which is sleeping on the back, does not cause this. 

This happens when babies are sleeping on the side, as this baby sleeping position does not support the neck properly. Thus, for the initial few months, ensure that you change your baby's position to back sleeping if they sleep on their side for a longer duration. 

If during the infant stage, the first three months, you notice any abnormality in the way your baby sleeps, if they prefer sleeping on their side or the tummy, speak to their pediatrician. Keep correcting their sleeping position till they gain neck control and learn to roll from back to tummy and tummy to back. 

For more help on baby sleeping, read our article “Newborn Sleeping Patterns.”

Some Common Questions Patents Ask

Q1 – If my baby pukes while sleeping on their back, will they not choke on their vomit?

Babies are far safe sleeping on their backs than on their sides or tummies. No evidence shows that babies might choke on vomit in the back baby sleeping position. However, if your baby has reflux and you are worried about the vomit getting into their nose or back into the mouth, make them sleep in a bit elevated position to avoid this. 

Q2 – My baby automatically rolls to her tummy while sleeping? Should I keep putting her back on her back all night?

After your baby has gained neck control and can roll from back to tummy and tummy to back on her own, you do not need to worry about sleeping on the tummy. 

Q3 – I am worried about my baby constantly moving while sleeping. Is it safe if he keeps changing position and not sleeping on his back all night?

If your baby has started to change positions in the sleep, it is entirely safe for them. For example, once they gain neck control and can roll from back to tummy and tummy to back, it is safer for them to sleep on the tummy or their sides. 

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