Can Babies Sleep on Their Stomach?
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My little angel loves to sleep by keeping her face down and bum up. I got petrified when I first saw her in this position. Dreaded with anxiety, I rushed to pick her up. Since then, I have been attentive while she is asleep. Listening to my friends’ and relatives’ suggestions, I wonder, “can babies sleep on their stomachs?” My cutie pie knows how to roll back to the stomach position. Should I make her sleep on her back even if she feels comfy on her tummy? And most importantly, are there any risks of stomach sleeping?
Are you, too, a newborn’s mother worried about your baby sleeping on stomach? This article covers all your doubts and provides information about stomach sleeping risks. Keep reading to know how to handle your infant’s tummy sleeping issues.
Is It Safe for Babies to Sleep on Their Stomach?
Is it safe for babies to sleep on their stomachs? Definitely no, if your child’s age is below one year. Health experts are against stomach sleeping for infants as it enhances the risk of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome). Healthy infants between the age of 1 month to 12 months dying unexpectedly due to SIDS is a matter of concern. Instead, doctors recommend placing babies on their backs until one year old. Back sleeping is essential, even during nap time. Moreover, it is vital to ensure no items such as stuffed toys or blankets around the child while sleeping to prevent SIDS.
When Can Babies Start Sleeping On Their Stomach?
A baby’s stomach sleeping problem can provide you with many sleepless nights. However, be relaxed as this phase won’t last long. If you are wondering what age can babies sleep on their stomachs, you need to wait until your child celebrates their first birthday. As your child grows gradually, the SIDS risk decreases too. Healthy babies have enough strength to roll themselves as their mobile skills develop. It will help if you are careful until your child can hold his head firmly and gain enough muscle strength to move around.
Once the child starts rolling, parents wonder, “Can babies sleep on their stomachs at 6 months?” The doctor’s suggestion for parents is to have patience. Although babies can roll in both directions at the age of 6 months, you still need to care while your infant sleeps on the stomach. However, SIDS risk decreases after babies turn one year old.
Benefits of Your Baby Sleeping on Their Stomach
Do you want to know the benefits of baby sleeping on tummy? Below are some conditions where sleeping on the stomach for your baby is beneficial.
It’s More Comfortable
Even when you constantly place your little angel on his back while sleeping, he is in no time again in his favourite tummy sleep position. It shows your child is more comfortable sleeping in this position. If your child hasn’t gained enough strength to roll around alone, gently place them on their back without disturbing their sleep. You can let them be in their favourite position if they have developed mobile skills. Ensure their head is either on one side and their face is not dug in the blankets or any other soft surface. Moreover, avoid trying to flip your child over by using any sleep positioners or nests. Sleep positioners are unsafe, and your child may suffocate, leading to SIDS.
Potentially Longer Sleep Cycles
When can babies sleep on their stomachs? Stomach sleep is considered beneficial if your child is a preterm infant. Research shows that while sleeping in a prone position, infants experienced more prolonged periods of quality sleep compared to supine positions. However, stomach sleeping for preterm infants is recommended only while the infants are in the NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit).
Risks of Your Baby Sleeping on Their Stomach Too Soon
Below are the risks of your baby sleeping on their stomach too soon. Knowing the risks will help you to be cautious if your baby is less than six months old.
Parents should avoid stomach-sleeping for infants for the first six months. SIDS, the sudden infant death syndrome, also known as ‘crib death,’ is a sudden and silent medical disorder. Even a healthy baby below one year of age can suffer from SIDS.
Health experts consider stomach sleep as one of the causes of sudden death in infants. Stomach sleeping may cause suffocation in babies who are unable to roll themselves into different sleeping positions. Premature babies are at more risk than normal babies.
AAP’S (American Academy of Paediatrics) “Back to Sleep” campaign recommends that all healthier infants be placed on their backs to sleep to avoid the risk of SIDS. A child in deep sleep cannot wake up to move on the other side. Thus, it is vital to avoid stomach sleeping in infants and look for ways to reduce the SIDS risk.
A child below six months cannot control head movement due to weak neck muscles. It means your child can’t hold its head up and turn it from side to side. If your child’s face accidentally gets stuck on the soft surface bedding items, they won’t be able to move their head. His breathing process may get obstructed, leading to suffocation. Thus, it is recommended to avoid stomach sleeping until your child is strong enough to roll over on its own.
You can allow your child 30 minutes of tummy time to help them develop the muscles. It will help them control their head movements, gradually move their arms and legs, and roll over. Ensure your child is under supervision during his tummy time.
Health experts suggest avoiding stomach sleeping as it blocks the infant’s airway and leads to rebreathing issues. Rebreathing means the babies breathe in the air they have exhaled. Thus, there is an increase in the carbon dioxide level and a decrease in the baby’s oxygen level. Due to this, the SIDS risk increases.
Infants control their temperature through their faces and head. Thus, stomach sleeping may hinder your infant’s body heat-releasing process. Overheating in babies is mainly observed in the winter season. Parents overdress their children with clothes and extra layers of blankets to protect them from the cold atmosphere. Covering the child’s head is common to prevent cool air from entering their ears. If you find your baby’s neck, back, or tummy sweating, it is a sign that your baby is suffering from overheating. Thus, placing your little angel on their back while sleeping will prevent overheating issues and reduce the SIDS risk.
Upper Airway Obstruction
Upper airway obstruction is also known as foreign body airway obstruction. If your child accidentally puts a piece of food or other small items into their mouth, the upper airway will get blocked. Also, after spitting, your child may breathe in the fluid into the lungs causing difficulty in breathing. Your child may also start choking while lying in a stomach position. Thus, placing them on their back is an ideal way to mitigate the airway obstruction risk.
What If Your Baby Rolls Onto Their Stomach During Sleep?
Tummy sleeping is infants’ way of getting the same warmth they experienced in their mother’s womb. We can consider this experience one of the benefits of your baby sleeping on their stomach. If your child can easily manage to roll his sides while sleeping, the SIDS risk is reduced. Children do protect themselves when they feel uncomfortable and get themselves back into a safe sleeping position.
Ensure they are placing their head sideways to breathe appropriately. Their arms shouldn’t get stuck below their body. Hence, there is no need to constantly worry if your baby rolls onto their stomach during sleep. However, you must be careful if your infant is less than six months old or their muscles are weak. Avoid swaddling, as it may prevent your infant from rolling from the stomach to the back position while sleeping.
When to See Your Doctor?
Your child is growing with each passing day. You can see their progress through the developmental milestones for each month. By regularly visiting paediatricians, you can ask questions related to your baby’s sleeping patterns. Health experts can guide you based on your child’s case and development.
You can see your doctor for consultation based on the following points:
- Your child has weak head control
- Is unable to flip into the back position
- Is uncomfortable after waking up
- Have started breathing issues
Finally, we can say that tummy sleep is best avoided for infants below one year of age. However, your child’s rolling is a developmental milestone. Practice supervised tummy time for strength building. You can also make your infant roll both ways during the day and help them to manage their sleeping position at night. Your child will quickly get accustomed to moving themselves in a safe sleep position with consistent practice. As a parent, you may initially feel sleep-deprived, but don’t forget that this phase will end soon. Your child will learn to manage his sleep in no time. Happy Parenting!
At what age can a baby sleep on their stomach?
According to experts, infants should only sleep on their backs until they are one year old. It lowers their risk of SIDS. A child can start sleeping on their stomach or in another position once they turn 1 year old.
Why can’t babies sleep on their stomachs?
When a baby who typically sleeps on their back is placed on their stomach or side for a nap or at night, the risk of SIDS is increased by up to 45 times. To lower the risk of SIDS, it is crucial for everyone who looks after babies always to put them to sleep during naps and at night.
Why do babies sleep better on their stomachs?
Babies placed on their stomachs generally sleep better, are less likely to wake up, and often sleep through the night sooner, according to the majority of paediatricians.
When IS SIDS no longer a risk?
SIDS can happen at any time during a baby’s first year of life, but it becomes incredibly rare after that. Doctors are aware that the risk of SIDS appears to peak between 2 and 4 months of age and declines after 6 months, despite the fact that the causes of SIDS are still largely unknown.
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