Baby Sleeping Position

Should you ever place your baby to sleep on their side?

 

The simple answer is no.  Babies should always be placed in bed on their back for every sleep.  Back is best as it helps keep the airway clear.  A baby’s drive to breath works best when they’re on their back.  A built-in alarm reminds them to breathe, and a strong gag and swallow reflex protect their airway if they spill

 “The last 20 years have seen the dramatic reduction in the toll from SUDI in New Zealand from 200 to 60 deaths per annum. The reduction in mortality stems largely from the recognition that placing babies to sleep on their backs reduced the risk of death…...it can be calculated that approximately 3000 infants have survived who would have otherwise died over these 20 years.”

Dr Nick Baker, Child and Youth Mortality Review Committee chair

When side-sleeping your baby, you risk the baby accidently rolling onto their stomach.  They don’t have the neck strength to lift their head and move it to ensure clear airways.  There is also a risk of suffocation if products, pillows, etc. are used to prop babies on their side.

Even when babies learn to roll (around 5 months), it is still important to place your baby on its back.  When a baby is rolling they may choose to sleep on their tummy, however if they are strong enough to roll onto their tummy, they are also strong enough to lift their head eliminating dangers – whereas a new-born doesn’t have this neck strength and ability.

Baby can get time on their tummy during supervised tummy time.

For further details on infant sleep check out this excellent website link.

 

This advice is from our 'Ask A Childbirth Educator' series, May 2014