With all the stress surrounding parenthood, there are so many things you want to get "right." Keeping your little one safe while sleeping is one of those things. You might be asking yourself, when can my baby sleep on their stomach?
It's common to hear conversations -and even arguments- between different generations of women. "Well, I let you sleep on your stomach, and you turned out just fine," is a common quip you may hear masquerading as parental advice. While that statement may be true, new research helps us make well-informed decisions, including following the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) advice and guidelines.
One thing we know is, making sure your baby sleeps on their back cuts down on common risk factors that may lead to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). The AAP states that "The leading cause of death for infants 1 month to 1 year is Sudden Unexpected Infant Death (SUIDs). This includes sleep-related deaths and SIDS".
Creating a safe sleep environment will protect your baby from common risk factors that can lead to sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
So, how do we perform this vital job and create a safe sleep environment?
Safe sleep environment requirements
The American Academy of Pediatrics has a "Safe Sleep" Program and gives parents useful, practical information to implement in the home.
Sleep safety basics and requirements
- The baby should sleep on a firm, flat surface. Use firm, flat sleeping gear like a crib, bassinet, portable crib, or other items specially made for a safe sleep environment. Do not use soft mattresses or other soft surfaces like a chair, waterbed, or couch.
- Only use one fitted sheet on the firm sleep surface, and you should store other loose bedding, blankets, or sleep accessories outside the baby's sleep area.
- The AAP recommends putting babies to sleep on their backs. If you notice they roll over in their sleep, return them to their back.
- A baby's crib or bassinet should have no stuffed animals, blankets, sheets, soft objects, pillows, or miscellaneous items. Also, do not use crib bumpers/bumper pads.
- Share your room, but not your bed with your baby. Your baby should sleep in their own bed with a firm sleeping surface. Avoid bed sharing and sleeping in the same bed with your baby.
Will my baby choke if placed on their back to sleep?
Many parents worry about the risk of choking if you put babies to sleep on their backs. Babies have a reflex that keeps their airways clear and free of obstruction. If they are sleeping on their back and spit up, the reflex kicks in, and they will swallow the liquid. There is no increased risk of choking with back sleeping.
Risks from stomach sleeping
There are other risk factors that can make sleeping a potentially dangerous experience for babies. We want to avoid any risk factors and help them grow up healthy and safe. A safe sleeping position and safe sleep environment are vital to a baby's health. Here are a few more risks to be aware of.
Babies that sleep on their stomachs may have lower abilities to regulate their body temperatures and a lower ability to release heat. Overheating is another risk factor for SIDS but is preventable with the correct baby gear and awareness.
To lessen the risk of overheating, dress your baby in light or lightweight clothing options. You can also check your baby to feel if they are too hot. We all want to have the most comfortable and happiest baby!
Babies learn how to control the movement of their heads through practice and lots of supervised tummy time. Accidental suffocation can happen when a baby accidentally rolls over, their face is pressed into the bed, and they are unable to move it. We don't want a baby's head to become a hazard!
You want to avoid any accidental rolling from stomach sleeping, as they may not have control over their body to move from the sleep position back to a safe sleep position. If a baby shows signs of rolling, you want to ensure they have access to their upper body and are not firmly restrained in a swaddle.
Another risk factor is rebreathing. If a baby sleeps on their stomach, they may be trying to breathe air that has collected between the bedding and their airways. Rebreathing can lead to low oxygen levels or carbon dioxide build-up.
Most babies will wake themselves up to breathe fresh, clean air, but some baby's reactions will not be able to protect them, which is why it's a SIDS risk factor.
At what age can my baby sleep on their stomach?
When your small, sweet human can roll independently in both directions, and they are 12-months old, it is safe to allow them to sleep on their stomach. Sometimes a baby prefers sleeping on its stomach before 12 months. If your baby rolls onto their stomach regularly though, you should continue turning them over and put your baby on their back until they are at least 12-months old. You got this!
Best sleeping position conclusion
So when can baby sleep on stomach safely? When babies sleep they may move around a lot, but there is no safer sleeping position for your baby than on their back. When they reach their first birthday (and can independently roll), it is safe to let your baby explore new sleeping positions. Which can include the stomach position!
To continue keeping your baby safe and healthy, always provide them with an optimal sleeping environment and follow safe sleep practices and sleep recommendations, as listed above.
Our commitment to you
At Duchess and Fox, we want to help your baby explore and grow up happy and healthy. Our products are created with your little one in mind to support their healthy growth and development. Our safe, genuine leather soft-sole shoes can help your little one thrive. While these soft-sole shoes don't help with baby sleep positions, they can help your baby explore new areas with a better shoe grip.
Extra sleep resources
Frequently asks questions about SIDS and Safe Infant Sleep
Myths and facts about SIDS and safe infant sleep