When Can An Infant Start To Sleep On His/Her belly?

Sleep Positioning for Baby’s First Year
Most pediatricians recommend that babies sleep on their backs for the first year of life. As any parent can tell you, however, babies begin to turn over on their own at around six months. This presents a challenge to parents who are trying to correctly position their baby for sleeping. Older babies possess greater mobility, which can make it difficult to keep them safely on their backs. While it is not necessary for parents to wake up multiple times each night to reposition the baby, they should make a concerted effort to keep younger babies on their backs during sleep for at least the first year. Babies who sleep on their backs are at a lower risk of experiencing sudden infant death syndrome, and they may have fewer upper respiratory problems and ear infections. Thus, taking the time to correctly position the baby would be well worth the extra trouble for parents.

Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)

While this frightening illness has not been linked with a definitive cause, babies that sleep on their backs are much less likely to fall prey to sudden infant death syndrome, or SIDS as it is commonly referred to by physicians. The risk of SIDS falls sharply after the first four months, but it remains a concern until the baby reaches one year of age. Known risk factors include exposure to cigarette or cigar smoke, a low birth weight and lack of proper prenatal care by the mother. Some children, however, who die from SIDS display none of these risk factors. For parents with babies who insist on rolling over on to their stomachs to sleep, a breathing monitor can be a good investment, helping to ease the parents’ worries about SIDS and to protect the baby from potentially negative effects.

Ear And Upper Respiratory Infections

In 2003, the National Institute of Health in association with the Department of Health and Human Services funded a study on infant sleep positions. The study, entitled “Infant Sleep Position and Associated Health Outcomes,” found that babies aged one to six months who slept on their backs experienced lower rates of ear infections, stuffy noses and fevers. Additionally, babies appeared to sleep more soundly on their backs, which can be advantageous to new parents who are short on sleep.

The health benefits associated with encouraging babies to sleep on their backs are significant. In many cases, parents can help their baby sleep in the correct position simply by making sure that the baby is on his or her back when placed in the crib . Doing so better protects the baby’s health and offers parents peace of mind during the baby’s crucial first year of life.

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