The sleeping position of new infants is a very important issue for new parents. This is largely due to the fact that wrong sleeping positions in infants or new-borns can sometimes lead to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). Most times, SIDS is caused by suffocation or strangulation. Hence, knowing the right sleeping position that can prevent SIDS is indeed necessary.
While sleeping on the stomach is a really cute position for babies, it’s not the healthiest. In fact, experts describe it as a highly unsafe position for sleeping because it entails the following risks:
• This position could place some pressure on the baby’s jaws and block the airways making it difficult for the baby to breathe.
• It places the baby’s nose very close to the mattress. This could easily result in him/ her breathing in the same recycled air which is quite low in oxygen.
• Sleeping on the stomach on a soft mattress makes the situation worse as the baby’s face slacks deeper in the mattress, making him breathe in the exhaled air and blocking the baby’s airwaves from all sides.
• Also, because this position places the baby’s nose very close to the mattress, he could breathe in a lot of microbes from the mattress that could in turn lead to allergies.
Sleeping on the side is another cute sleeping position, because let’s face it, baby’s always look good and so adorable curled on their sides. However, experts say it’s not a healthy position for baby’s to sleep in either. Dr. Andrew Adesman, author of the book “Baby Facts” explains in his book that part of the reasons for confusion is because at first it was deemed acceptable by experts that you can place your baby on the side for proper and healthy sleep. But, it was later discovered that babies placed to sleep on their sides could easily roll over to their stomachs.
The best position for your baby to sleep is actually on his/ her back. Experts say that it is the safest position for sleeping for your baby. This is due to the fact that it keeps the airways open. It is highly recommended for short naps as well as sound sleep all through the night. This recommendation applies to babies throughout the first year of their life, but is most crucial in the first six months.
However, it is important to note that if infants are placed on the back for a long time in the same position it could lead to “positional plagiocephaly”, a case of flattened head or “brachycephaly”, a case of flattened back. These conditions are temporary and the shape of the baby’s skull and back returns back to normal as the child becomes older and it will hardly needs any treatment.
With that in mind, there are some steps that parents can take to avoid the above stated situation altogether. These are as follows:
• Give the baby more tummy time when he/ she is awake and being supervised. This will also help to build his/ her shoulder muscles and head control.
• Turn the baby on his/ her sides while he/ she is not asleep.
• Reduce the time that your baby spends in carriers and baby sitters.
Other tips to consider when putting your baby to sleep are:
• Avoid placing your baby to sleep on soft, porous surfaces like pillows, quilts, comforters, sheepskins or bean bags.
• Do not allow your baby sleep with their stuffed animals or toys as the material could block their airways if they burrow their face in them.
• Also, avoid having her sleep on waterbeds, sofas or soft mattresses.
• Keep the temperature in your baby’s room comfortable.
• Do not place your baby close to air-conditioning or heating vents, open windows or any other sources of drafts.
• Use sleep clothing like a one piece sleeper and a wearable blanket as safer options while sleeping.
• Remember, that a firm crib mattress covered by a sheet is the safest bedding.