Since sleep is an essential need for your little one during the first months of her life, you must know how to make it safe and comfortable for her.
So, let’s take a closer look at safe newborn sleep positions as well as some tips on how to organize the best sleeping space for a baby.
Both pediatricians and new parents worldwide are concerned about sudden unexpected infant deaths (SUID). The most common causes of SUID are the following:
In 2017, SUID claimed 3,600 infant’s lives and today remains the most common reason for deaths in infancy around the world.
Another major concern is overheating. Babies cannot regulate their temperature accurately yet. Worrying about this, some parents put many clothes on their newborn or place a heater near the cot to make sure their little one won’t get cold.
But here’s the thing:
Doing so may be fatal.
A study published in the Lancet journal analyzed 34 sudden infant deaths and showed that more than half of the babies were overheated or sweating when found dead.
What you should also know is that babies lose heat through their head and hands, so these parts of the body shouldn’t be muffled up. Overall, if the room has a comfortable temperature and is appropriately aerated, there’s no need to wrap your little one up like a burrito.
Now, let’s outline the main pros and cons of each sleep position and determine how they apply to newborns.
Back sleeping is undoubtedly the best position for newborns. It eliminates the chances of choking during sleep because the baby’s airways remain open.
If your little one is healthy and not premature born, you should always put her on the back—for sleeping, napping, and just resting.
However, the supine sleep position does have a drawback. If you put your baby in the same position all the time, they might develop positional plagiocephaly—or, simply put, their head might become misshapen.
This condition occurs because the bones that form the infant’s skull are very flexible and movable. This helps the head pass through the birth canal. As the baby grows, the bones grow together and form a rigid skull. But if you consistently place the baby in the same sleep position, the bones may deform and create protrusions.
Severe forms of positional plagiocephaly require surgery. But this condition can be prevented by following these recommendations:
Stomach sleeping is the most controversial sleep position. Some healthcare specialists go strictly against it, while others may even recommend tummy sleeping for your baby.
The truth is, this position can be beneficial if your baby has some medical condition that makes it uncomfortable for him to sleep on his back.
Also, placing your baby to sleep on his stomach can work for reducing bloating and colic pain. Thus, he can calm down and fall asleep this way.
Now, some theories go against stomach sleeping:
You can surely try short tummy sleeping sessions under your supervision.
But overall, it’s better to use tummy time for practicing head lifting and rolling skills.
Side sleeping isn’t recommended for babies at all. If you put your little one on his side before he learns how to roll over, he may end up on the stomach. Which puts him at risk of suffocation.
As mentioned above, lying on the side may be used for play and active sessions, but under your supervision only.
Now, here are a few general guidelines on how to make your baby’s sleep safer, no matter if he sleeps on his back or stomach: