Safe Sleep: When Can Baby Sleep on his Tummy?
The scariest part of bringing your baby home is the car ride home. Then once you make it successfully there and everyone collectively breathes a sigh of relief, night time rolls around and panic sets in again. Safe sleep, SIDS, to co-sleep or not to co-sleep, too many options and even more scary information available! While every mom and parent needs to decide what is going to work best for the baby and their household, below are some broader tips on sleep, and safe sleep positions for a new baby.
Safe Sleep for Baby
To begin the safe sleep position discussion I want to just briefly touch on what you can dress your baby in to sleep. Experts recommend dressing a baby in what you would be comfortable in plus one layer. As an example, footed pajamas, a sleep sack, or a swaddle are good options for that extra layer. A swaddle or a tight sleep sack is most common practice for babies because newborns prefer the snug tight fit that prevents them from startling themselves awake when they have jerk muscle movements while sleeping. Sleep sacks swaddle the baby with either zippers or Velcro to keep it tight and in place, as opposed to just using a blanket to swaddle. As the baby gets bigger in size and stronger in their movements blankets are easier for them to bust out of and could ultimately get tangled up in.
Where Should Baby Sleep?
Next, deciding on where the baby will do most of their night time sleep is important in the success of the sleeping patterns of the baby. If you are going to prefer them to be in with you, finding the right sleeping apparatus is a must before baby comes. If the end goal is to have baby in their own room eventually, have the crib set up in their room and use it for most of their naps throughout the day so they can get comfortable with it.
Once you know where baby sleeps and what they are going to sleep in; consider what they are going to sleep on. American Academy of Pediatrics recommends the mattress be firm with only a tight fitted sheet underneath. Avoid thick comforters, quilts, lose blankets, and stuffed animals in the crib with the baby.
Safe Sleep Positions for Baby
Back sleeping is the most recommended sleep position because it has the least amount of risk related to SIDS. However, there are cases where medical conditions are such that tummy and side sleeping is acceptable. Like severe acid reflux or certain upper-airway malformations like Pierre Robin Syndrome which lead to acute airway obstruction episodes. Parents of colicky babies have also been recommended to place their babies on their tummies to relieve them of gas pressure, but not for night time sleeping.
When can Baby Sleep on his Tummy?
Once baby is rolling from back to belly is when the risk of SIDS reduces dramatically. As long as they know how to turn their head and there aren’t any loose blankets, pillows or stuffed animals around them, it is okay to leave your baby on her belly if she rolls over in her sleep. However, starting them on their back is recommended.
While safe sleep can be a big scary topic, taking time to work on your baby’s neck strength like doing tummy time can help reduce the risk of SIDS. When they start rolling on their own and getting into their own little comfortable position it’s a lot easier to relax during sleeping hours. Stay alert and if it brings you comfort there are many sleeping monitors on the market that alert you if the baby’s breathing becomes abnormal. However, there has been very little research or proof as to whether these monitors actually help or not.
Every baby has preferences in their sleep positions, locations, and what they wear to sleep. Keeping a close eye on your baby and learning what they are ready for and when is important in determining what will work for you and your family. My babies loved to be on their belly and they slept much better that way. I had to carefully consider the risks and worked slowly into belly sleepers through a lot of supervision and research on my own like talking with trusted doctors and other moms.