One night when the mother went to feed the baby, she noticed something was amiss. Peering over the crib rail she spied a tiny little backside wriggling dangerously close to the edge. It seemed this curious critter had once again rolled onto its tummy while sleeping. Gently, she turned the babe back over onto its back to rest. This led to today's topic of discussion - when can babies start sleeping on their stomachs?
Let's study this problem in depth from the following aspects.
Is it okay for babies to sleep on tummy?
For the first 6 months, babies should always be placed on their backs to sleep, with no exceptions. This is the safest sleep position.
Between 6-12 months, some babies may be ready for tummy sleeping, but only if they meet certain criteria. This includes babies who are physically able to roll from back to tummy and vice versa on their own.
Signs a baby may be ready include lifting their head while on their tummy, pushing up on their elbows, and rotating side to side while on their stomach.
Even once a baby shows these signs, caretakers should still put them to sleep on their back initially and observe if they roll to tummy on their own.
Tummy sleeping should only occur in the parents' bedroom, never in the same bed as parents or other children.
The American Academy of Pediatrics still recommends placing babies on their back to sleep for the entire first year as the safest option.
So in summary - back is best up to 1 year, with potential tummy sleeping only if babies show the motor skills to roll themselves. Vigilant supervision is needed if tummy sleeping.
Is it safe to put my baby down to sleep on their stomach?
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that infants should be placed on their backs to sleep as the safest sleep position to reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). This practice has significantly decreased the occurrence of SIDS since it was introduced in the early 1990s.
Sleeping on the stomach or prone position is not recommended for babies as their primary sleep position, especially during the first year of life. Placing a baby on their stomach to sleep increases the risk of SIDS.
However, there might be specific situations where a baby might end up on their tummy while sleeping due to rolling over, particularly when they have gained enough strength to roll themselves. If a baby rolls onto their tummy independently, it's generally considered safe to leave them in that position, given they have the strength to roll both ways (from tummy to back and back to tummy). This usually happens around 4 to 6 months of age.
Always ensure that the sleep environment is safe and conducive to reducing the risk of SIDS:
Use a Firm Sleep Surface: Place your baby on a firm mattress covered with a fitted sheet, without any soft bedding, pillows, or toys.
Keep the Sleep Area Clear: Avoid placing any loose bedding, stuffed animals, or soft objects in the crib or sleep space.
Room Sharing, Not Bed Sharing: The AAP recommends room sharing without bed sharing, where the baby sleeps in a crib or bassinet in the parents' room for at least the first six months to one year of life.
Remember, while a baby's ability to roll over is a developmental milestone, it's still important to initially place them on their back for sleep until they can independently change positions. Always discuss any concerns or questions about your baby's sleep position with your pediatrician or healthcare provider for personalized advice.
When can babies sleep on their stomach？
For the first 6 months, babies should always be placed on their back to sleep, with no exceptions. Back sleeping significantly lowers the risk of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome).
Between 6-12 months, some babies may be ready to transition to stomach sleeping if they have shown they can roll over from back to front and front to back without assistance. This shows they have developed the neck and chest muscles needed for stomach sleeping.
Signs a baby can roll independently include lifting their head while lying face down, pushing up on their forearms from the prone position, and rolling from their back to their front and front to back.
Even if a baby shows independent rolling skills, parents should still place them down to sleep on their back initially every time.
After 12 months, most pediatricians agree that occasional stomach sleeping is generally fine as long as no other risks like soft bedding, loose blankets, or toys are present.
The safest practice according to the American Academy of Pediatrics is back sleeping only for the first 12 months.
So in summary, between 6-12 months is usually the earliest point when occasional stomach sleeping may be introduced, but back sleeping is still recommended.
What happens if baby rolls on stomach while sleeping?
It's generally okay as long as the baby rolled onto their tummy on their own. As long as they were initially placed on their back to sleep.
Rolling itself does not increase the risk of SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome). Babies this young don't yet have the strength to roll back onto their backs if they get into a dangerous position.
Parents do not need to wake or reposition the baby if they find them sleeping on their tummy. Let the baby continue sleeping as long as they seem comfortable.
Make sure the crib is bare - no bumpers, blankets, toys or extra pillows that could obstruct breathing if the baby's face gets pressed down.
Continue following safe sleep practices of alone, on back and in a crib or bassinet for every sleep.
Let the pediatrician know at the next visit so their rolling skills can be assessed. Rolling is a natural part of motor development.
In most cases, an infant rolling in their sleep poses no problem as long as proper safety steps were followed initially.
Recommended baby sleeping position
Back sleeping is best - All babies under 1 year should be placed on their backs to sleep, for every nap and at night. This sleeping position has been proven to significantly reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
Alone and in a crib/bassinet - Baby should sleep alone in a crib, bassinet or pack and play, in the parents' bedroom for the first 6 months. This reduces the risk of SIDS and suffocation.
Firm surface, no soft bedding - Use a firm, flat mattress with a tightly fitting sheet. Do not add pillows, blankets, bumper pads or clutter that could obstruct breathing.
Feet to foot/head to head - When sharing a bed, ensure there is no space between the mattress and wall or furniture, and baby sleeps with their feet at the foot of the mattress, away from the potential danger of parent rolls.
Under 1 year - Back sleeping should continue through the first 12 months. Stomach sleeping may slowly be introduced around 6 months if baby can roll independently.
The AAP recommends the above ABCs of safe sleep - Alone, on the Back, in a Crib - as the safest sleep environment for babies under 1.