A baby sleeping on belly – how bad is that..?
My 4-month-old daughter rolls onto her belly during sleep. She seems content sleeping like that, but I have been told that due to SIDS babies should sleep on their backs or sides for the first year.
When I put her down to sleep, I always place her on her back or side, but during the night she rolls on her belly on her own. When I move her to her side or back she wakes up and it takes a long time for her to fall back asleep.
I am worried about my baby sleeping on her belly, but I don’t know what more to do about it. Any advice?
Baby Sleeping On Belly After Rolling Over – What To Do?
The Problems With a Baby Sleeping on Stomach
In the best of worlds, your baby should sleep on her back during the first year, due to the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
Although research is not entirely clear on why back sleeping is safer, it is shown that the back sleep position carries the lowest risk of SIDS.
Compared with back sleeping, stomach sleeping increases the risk of SIDS by 1.7 – 12.9 times – yikes! (Source.)
In addition, babies who sleep on their backs tend to get fewer fevers, stuffy noses, and ear infections. So there are many good reasons for putting your baby to sleep on their back.
Why Do Babies Roll Over in Their Sleep?
You would have thought that since most babies are taught to fall asleep and continue sleeping on their backs, they would content with that and just continue doing it.
Once they start to move around more, many babies also start moving around while asleep, and they then also tend to find new sleep positions that they prefer.
Some babies roll over and then wake up for a while before they have become used to either sleep on their tummies or to roll over to their backs again while asleep. A frustrating few weeks!
But since your daughter seems happy sleeping on her tummy, you can expect it to continue… Not an ideal situation, but read on. It is not as bad as you might think!
Safety When Baby Rolls Over Onto Their Stomach While Sleeping
It is safe when they can…
However, once your baby starts rolling over and hence chooses for herself how to sleep, there isn’t much you can do!
Of course, you could set the alarm clock and turn her over, but chances are she will roll back to belly sleeping within a split second. Or, as in your baby’s case, wake up and have trouble going back to sleep again. That won’t work for any of you!
The common understanding is that when a baby is strong enough and has enough body control to roll over voluntarily, they are also at much lower risk of SIDS since they are now strong enough to lift their head and shoulders.
Still Put Them to Sleep on Their Backs
According to the National Institute of Child Health’s campaign for safe infant sleep, however, it is still very important to put your baby down for sleep on their back every time. If they then choose to roll over, that’s fine.
No Positioners or Similar Products
Do not try to prevent the belly sleeping through wedges, positioners, or similar. There have been warnings about these types of products for many years now since they have led to babies being suffocated.
It is very important that a baby that tends to roll over, can move around freely. So for anyone who use to swaddle their baby, this has to stop immediately.
Another thing, make sure to give your baby plenty of tummy time when awake and time in an upright position, to strengthen her back and neck muscles.
You ‘ll find games to play with your 4-month-old baby here.
Creating a Safe Sleep Environment for a Baby that Rolls Over to Tummy Sleeping
Instead of setting the alarm clock to turn your baby around, make sure you take all precautionary steps possible to minimize the risk of SIDS.
A clean, safe bed
Take away any pillows and blankets and make sure you use a firm mattress in her crib. For a list of SIDS prevention tips click here.
If you co-sleep with your baby, it is now very important to make sure there is absolutely no risk that your baby falls under a blanket or pillow, rolls towards your body, and can’t breathe, or in any other way gets overheated or has difficulties finding air.
Also, mention your situation for your daughter’s health care provider, to discuss any particular precautions suitable for your baby.
Since you are worried, it might be nice for you to know that 90% of all cases of SIDS occur for babies younger than 6 months old. The risk is highest when the baby is between 3 and 4 months old and then it falls rapidly.
I wish you good luck!
Who else has a baby sleeping on belly? Add your comments below or return to Baby Sleep Q&A.