Tummy sleeping: Is it dangerous for infants?

Read more about the risks of letting your infant sleep on their tummy!

tummy sleeping

A child sleeping on its tummy

How many of you reading this prefer to sleep on your stomach or even on your side? Probably a good number of you. Tummy sleeping for infants, however, is risky and should be avoided for the first year of life.

Why infants shouldn’t sleep on their tummy

Tummy sleeping is the biggest no-no when it comes to infants because it is linked to SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome). Since the time that experts have encouraged parents to put their babies to sleep on their backs rather than their stomachs, there has been a 30% decrease in the number of SIDS deaths.

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Tummy sleeping also increases the chances of infant suffocation. It is not easy for a sleeping or drowsy infant to roll from their stomach onto their back. Therefore, if they become entangled in a blanket or get their face ‘buried’ into a pillow, blanket or other object, they can suffocate more easily.

tummy sleeping

What if my baby is used to sleeping on the tummy?

What if my baby likes tummy sleeping

There are many babies out there who sleep better and longer when they sleep on their tummy. And if you are the parent of such a child, it’s only natural for you to want to allow tummy sleeping. After all, a sound-sleeping baby equals a sound-sleeping parent.

From this mum’s standpoint, all four of my babies were tummy sleepers. When the first three were born, this was the preferred way to let them sleep to avoid SIDS. By the time my fourth was born, they had changed it to back sleeping, but she, too preferred tummy sleeping.

Now I am NOT advising you to go against your pediatrician’s advice, but I am telling you to use some common sense. If your baby absolutely sleeps sounder and longer on his/her tummy, then let them. However, make sure you take all other precautions against SIDS and check on them regularly during nap times. If you notice your baby does have episodes of forgetting to breathe, then by all means, move them to their backs.

How to encourage back sleeping

Parents can encourage back sleeping by doing so right from the start. Newborns love to be swaddled and that naturally lends itself to back sleeping. So when you swaddle your baby and lay them down on their backs to sleep, it’s more likely to become a habit. Not always, mind you, but it can work.

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Once the age of safely swaddling your baby has come and gone (or if you don’t swaddle), using blankets to ‘lock’ your baby into position is acceptable. To do this, you roll two blankets and securely tuck them against your baby’s sides starting at mid-chest. WARNING: Don’t go any higher than mid-chest to prevent the danger of suffocation.

tummy sleeping

A child sleeping safely on her back

When can I stop worrying?

By the time your baby can easily roll from back to stomach and stomach to back, there is no longer a need to be concerned about whether they are a tummy sleeper or back sleeper. By this time they are able to move themselves to whatever position they find comfortable so nothing you do is going to matter anyway.

Did you know that tummy sleeping was dangerous for the first year of your baby’s life? Did this article help you? If so, let us know about it! For more on tummy sleeping, watch this video: