Does Your Baby Sleep on his Back?

Worried About Choking Or A Flat Head?

baby sleep on his back

Babies should sleep on their backs if at all possible. All studies indicate that the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) is greatly reduced that way.

But are there any disadvantages with this? And what if your baby refuses?

Check our list of common questions and worries related to have a baby sleep on his back.


Questions on Having a Baby Sleep on His Back

My baby refuses to sleep on his back?

Many babies don't like sleeping on their backs. So what can you do then?

While they haven't yet learned to roll over themselves, you can start with putting your baby to sleep on his side and then slowly turn him to his back inch by inch while he's asleep. Most babies to get used to sleeping on their back after a while.

Or rock him to sleep in a crib or stroller in the correct sleep position.

When the baby starts rolling over by himself, you can of course turn him back, but that's not realistic at night. Instead, take away any pillow, blanket etc and make sure that all other conditions to minimize the risk of SIDS are fulfilled. That is no smoking, firm mattress, cool temperature etc.

If it seems impossible to make your baby sleep on his back, talk to a pediatrician about your specific situation, to see what the risks are with another sleep position.

There are sleep positioners around that are supposed to make sure that your baby does not roll over to his stomach, but most pediatricians, including American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), advice against such devices. Most positioners that have been tested have not shown to be enough safe or effective.

Side sleeping?

Side sleeping as an alternative sleep position to having your baby sleep on is back has become much more common since stomach sleeping became "forbidden". Experts don't think that there are any risks involved in side sleeping per se, but there is a clear risk that the baby rolls over to his stomach. So side sleeping is not recommended unless you have your child in full view.

What about choking?

Babies burp and spit and throw up..

Sleeping on their back, can't they choke?

Well, babies often turn their heads if they spit or they either swallow what comes up or start coughing.

Research has found no higher incidence of babies choking when sleeping on their backs compared to other sleep positions.

What about co-sleeping?

If you co-sleep and breastfeed, you baby is likely to fall asleep while lying on his side. This could potentially be dangerous if it means that your baby rolls over to his stomach later on.

However, this is not very likely to happen if you know about the risk. First of all, the best is of course of you manage to stay awake while breastfeeding and then see to that you have your baby sleep on his back before you go back to sleep.

If you do fall asleep, your baby will lie very close to you and you will act as a giant pillow preventing him from rolling over.

Some studies do indicate a higher risk for SIDS when co-sleeping, some indicate a lower risk. Recent research shows no higher incidence of SIDS unless the mother or father smokes or has consumed alcohol.

Also, it is very important that your baby does not get too warm or that your blanket covers his face.

If you want to co-sleep with your baby, talk to the baby's health care provider first. And never ever let the baby share your bed if you or your spouse has consumed alcohol. Read more about safe co-sleeping here.

Won't he get a flat head?

Well, if you make sure to put the baby's head in different directions when he sleeps as well as when he is awake, this should not be a problem.

And anyway, if the baby's head becomes a little bit flat in the beginning, this almost always goes away when the baby learns to sit up or even before that if you remember to vary your baby's head's position both when he is asleep and awake. Talk to a pediatrician if you're worried. For a young baby to have a flat spot on his head is called positional plagiocephaly. It is a cosmetic issue, it is common and it goes away over time. How many toddlers with a funny head shape have you seen? If your baby really does have a problem, you can get help.

I hope this has resolved any questions you had on having your baby sleep on his back. Now head on to learn more about baby sleep or other baby tips.

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By Paula Dennholt, Copyright © 2006-2013 EasyBabyLife.Com. Please review our disclaimer before using this site.

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