Is it not funny how babies can fall asleep at any place and at 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 – newborn sleeping is a phenomenon that can occur anywhere! They don't even care if they are on their back or tummy.
But particular baby sleeping positions are risky and unsafe for infants. Thus, as a parent, you need to be vigilant for the first few months about how your baby sleeps. This article will discuss newborn sleep positions, safe baby sleeping positions, and the risks involved.
Sleeping On The Back – Why Is It The Safest Position?
While there is no concrete evidence, some researchers and experts believe that sleeping on the back is the safest position for infants. It is difficult for babies who do not have neck control yet to lift their heads if they have difficulty breathing in case of a newborn baby sleeping on their stomachs. 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 pressure on the lungs and 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.
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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!
1 - 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 sheets that do not come off quickly with a bit of tug or pull from your baby.
2 - 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.
3 - 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 newborn baby sleeping position, your baby can have the blanket over their face and find it difficult to breathe and unable to remove it independently.
4 - Consider investing in a baby video monitor for their nap times or even night sleep for the initial weeks.
5 - 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's 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 supervised time on their tummy, carrying them in a wrap or sling a few times a day, and avoiding feeding them on their back.
Side Sleeping And Torticollis Risk
You might not have heard this term often 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 a sprain in your neck due to using the wrong pillow or 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 their side, as this best 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 how 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.”
In conclusion, understanding the risks and safety measures related to baby sleeping positions is crucial for the well-being of newborns. It is essential to prioritize safe and the best sleeping position for babies to reduce the risk of potential hazards. The best sleeping position for babies is placing them on their backs, as recommended by pediatricians.
This position helps minimize the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) and ensures unobstructed breathing. Additionally, parents should maintain a consistent sleep environment, including a firm mattress, a fitted sheet, and a clutter-free crib. Monitoring and following the baby's sleep patterns can also provide valuable insights into their well-being. By practicing safe newborn baby sleeping positions and understanding their sleep patterns, parents can help create a safe and comfortable sleeping environment for their little ones, promoting healthy development and peaceful rest.
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Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What is the safest sleeping position for my newborn baby?
A: The safest sleeping position for newborn babies is on their backs. This position helps reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) and allows for unobstructed breathing.
Q: Are there any specific sleeping positions I should avoid for my baby?
A: Yes, certain sleeping positions should be avoided. Placing your baby on their stomach or side increases the risk of suffocation and should be avoided, especially during sleep.
Q: Can I use a pillow or cushion to elevate my baby's head while sleeping?
A: No, it is not recommended to use pillows or cushions to elevate a baby's head while sleeping. These objects can pose a suffocation hazard. It is best to provide a firm and flat sleeping surface for your baby.
Q: How should I position my baby for sleep to prevent flat spots on their head?
A: To prevent flat spots on your baby's head, you can alternate the direction you place their head while sleeping. Additionally, supervised tummy time during awake hours can help promote healthy head development.
Q: What can I do to ensure a safe sleep environment for my baby?
A: To create a safe sleep environment for your baby, ensure they sleep on a firm mattress with a fitted sheet in a crib or bassinet. Remove loose bedding, pillows, or stuffed animals from the sleeping area. Keep the room at a comfortable temperature and avoid overdressing your baby.