If you’ve recently entered parenthood, you’ve probably experienced how sleep can turn your newborn baby from a cranky, crying mess into a happy little cherub, rippling with laughter. Your baby’s brain works quite hard when it’s awake and undisturbed sleep delivers the rest it needs so it can continue functioning properly the next day.
Most of us adults are fully aware of how important a healthy sleeping posture is and how exceedingly uncomfortable waking up with a stiff neck can be. In the case of babies, however, the need of appropriate sleeping posture is even more important since their muscles, bones, and the general shape of their body are all forming and changing with every passing night. Therefore, it is essential that all parents take up the responsibility of ensuring that their baby’s sleeping position is both correct and safe.
Why Placing Babies On Their Backs Is The Best Sleeping Position
Be it at night,
Although there is still no substantial proof as to why the supine position is the safest, there are a number of theories that help to reason this out.
When you lie babies down on their backs, you avoid the risks of the crib bedding (such as sheets, pillows, etc.) moving too close to their faces and blocking their air supply. This way you can steer clear of any chances of suffocation.
If the mattress is too soft and yielding (especially in the case of water beds), babies run a higher risk of their faces getting pressed into the surface and being suffocated. Therefore, by putting your babies to sleep on their backs, you once again, steer clear of the dangers of them
Some pediatricians also believe that by making infants lie on their backs, you prevent the microbes from the mattress from interfering with their breathing.
Note: There is insufficient information as to what causes cot or crib deaths. However, we do know for sure that the number of cot deaths has gone down drastically after doctors recommended that the supine position is the best and the safest for babies.
Sleeping Positions And Sudden Infant Death (SIDS) In Newborns
All parents are in constant fear of the possibility that their babies might die in their sleep without any warning signs or a clear reason. This is known as sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) or sudden unexpected infant death (SUID). Infants who face an increased risk for SIDS are usually older than a month but younger than 6 months, males, those born prematurely, and triplets or twins.
There is an undeniable
As compared with back sleeping, laying a baby down to sleep on its stomach carries between 1.7 and 12.9 times the risk of SIDS.2 Laying a baby down on its side is known to eventually bring the baby’s body back on its tummy, hence side sleeping is usually not recommended either. Although the exact mechanisms are not yet known, it is suggested that stomach sleeping may increase the risks of SIDS through a variety of mechanisms such as:
Increasing the chances of the baby re-breathing exhaled breath, resulting in carbon dioxide buildup and extremely low oxygen levels
Leading to obstruction of the upper air passageways and hampering body heat dissipation, resulting in overheating 3
While breathing issues are mostly always the trigger of
What About Choking Or The Flat Head Syndrome?
It is a common concern for parents that their babies are probably more likely to choke while sleeping on their back, but research states that vomiting and choking while asleep is in fact much more common when an infant sleeps on its side or belly.
Another significant concern is that making your baby sleep on its back may cause it to
Changes in your baby’s head shape can be treated or prevented by changing the head position to facing either right or left during sleep from day to day or week to week. You can easily accomplish this by changing the orientation of the baby inside the crib, to outside activity, for instance, the door to the room. You can also entice the baby to look in a particular direction by placing mirrors or mobiles and other interesting things around their crib. Ensure that your infant also spends plenty of time on its stomach when it is awake. Giving your baby enough tummy time every day will help in the development of its neck, shoulder, and arm muscles.
What To Do If Babies Turn In Their Sleep
If your baby has rolled over onto its tummy, make sure to gently turn it onto their back again.
Usually, after 4 or 5 months, your baby may start changing sleeping positions on its own, such as rolling over from its back onto its stomach. This means your baby’s body and the brain knows enough to be able to find its own position and it is safe for it to sleep on its stomach. Continue, however, to place your infant on its back when its time to sleep. If your baby turns onto its tummy by itself, there’s nothing to worry about.
It is important to remember to keep the same sleeping posture routine for your baby since babies who are normally made to sleep on their backs but are sometimes made to sleep on their fronts are at a significantly high risk of sudden death.
The best way to ensure that your baby sleeps on its back is to lay it down its
How Can You Ensure Healthy Sleep For Your Baby?
While sleeping on the back is the most important rule to follow for babies, there are some other recommendations for healthy and safe sleep that you may follow.
- Place your baby on his back each time you want it to sleep until it is about 1-year-old. It’s highly unsafe for a baby to sleep on its side or tummy until it learns to change positions itself.
- Always dress your baby in light and airy sleeping clothes. Don’t cover the head and remove strings, ties, ribbons, etc. from pajamas and shirts. Set the temperature of the room to something that’s comfortable for you; not too cold, not too hot.
- Let your baby have a pacifier for naps and during bedtime as they may help to prevent SIDS. If your baby refuses to take the pacifier, never force it. It is also completely okay if the pacifier falls out of your baby’s mouth while sleeping. Never attach the pacifier to your baby’s clothing or a toy, or hang the pacifier around your baby’s neck.
- Keep your baby’s crib free of clutter; pillows, bumpers, and stuffed animals can also pose as suffocation hazards.
- Stay away from spending too much money on products that claim to bring down the risk of SIDS, like special mattresses or wedges. There is no evidence that they do.
- Exposure to secondhand smoke can have damaging effects on babies, as does smoking during pregnancy and after childbirth, for this brings up the chances of SIDS. Even smoking away from your baby can lead to SIDS.
Baby care is certainly tricky, and it requires deep and utmost attention to detail, right from skin to skin care, to breastfeeding, to even the sleeping position and behavior. Since your baby is still in a very fragile state, he will need you the most now, than at any other phase in his life so that he can grow up into a strong, healthy toddler.
|↑1||Research on Back Sleeping and SIDS. Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.|
|↑2||Changing Concepts of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome: Implications for Infant Sleeping Environment and Sleep Position. American Academy of Pediatrics.|
|↑3||Carroll, John L., and Ellen S. Siska. “SIDS: counseling parents to reduce the risk.” American family physician 57, no. 7 (1998): 1566-1572.|