Is it Okay for My Baby to Sleep On Her Tummy?

By Misty on in Baby Sleep Help Health Concerns SIDS Research with 6 Comments

Is it Okay for My Baby to Sleep On Her Tummy?
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There has been much discussion warning parents to take care in the position that they allow their baby to sleep. Many doctors vehemently advise that you never allow your baby to sleep on their tummy for fear of suffocation or sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). These doctors stress that there is no time of day and no occasion when it is alright for your baby to sleep on her tummy.

Many years ago, when my oldest child was a baby, the golden rule was to have baby sleeping on their tummy. Why? Back then it was thought it would prevent babies from choking on their own spit up. By the time my 2nd child came around, we were told by doctors to keep our baby on her back. Then everything got crazy with my third and we were told to use a wedge to keep her on her side while she slept. It always felt like nobody really knew the answer!

Now that we have our beautiful 4th child, who is now 15 months old, they are back to telling us back sleeping only. Talk about confusing!

What do you do when your infant is noticeably uncomfortable sleeping on her back?

Baby sleep can pose difficulties for some parents. There’s the struggle of creating sleep schedules, getting baby to sleep when not at home, and helping them adapt to proper sleep positions. My own tendency is to go with the method that seems to help baby sleep more soundly and for longer periods of time, but what if that means allowing them to sleep on their tummy?

For many parents it becomes an individual personal decision; a decision that must be made based on the behavior of their own child and most definitely taking their doctor’s recommendations as well. Every child is unique and what works for one may not work for all. Once your baby begins to roll, if she doesn’t like sleeping on her back, there isn’t much you can do to stop it from happening.

When my own daughter goes down for bed, even now at 15 months, I always start her off sleeping on her back as this was the safest method as instructed by our own doctor. However, since she was three months old, she has been sleeping on her tummy because that’s where she rolled to. For us, we decided if she was able to roll on to her tummy, she could probably roll off her tummy if she was feeling any sort of struggle with keeping her head up.

However, with the new research about mattress off-gassing, a baby sleeping on her tummy may pose a greater risk for SIDS if you are using a mattress that allows for these gases to occur. This is one of the biggest reasons we chose to purchase a naturepedic organic crib mattress for our baby.

You may be inclined to consider purchasing a baby sleep positioner, but I want to advise you NOT to do so. These baby positioners really pose a tremendous hazard when your baby rolls and moves into a position where they may be unable to breathe. Instead the best solution for your baby is to lie them on a firm mattress covered with a fitted sheet in a crib free of all other objects. That means no stuffed cuddlies, no pillows, and no bumpers.

When considering your baby’s sleep position you must go with what you believe to be the best for her based on doctor recommendations, safety guidelines and your own research. As her parent you become in tuned with her sounds, her movements, and her special little mannerisms. Use those cues and your own parental instinct to guide you in making decisions when it comes to your baby’s sleep.

Do you allow your baby to sleep on her tummy?

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  1. Edie Dykeman

    March 5, 2014 at 2:16 pm · Reply

    My girls are now in their forties. When they were babies the common practice was to lay them on their stomach as they could, and sometimes did, choke when on their back. One of them always turned over on her stomach no matter how we placed her so it really didn't matter anyway. Back in the day the mattresses weren't treated with anything that would harm the child, so we didn't have to take that into consideration. The main thing I worried about is if they had a blanket large enough to end up on top of their face and cause possible death due to suffocation. Interesting article. It's getting so we really don't know what we should do.

    1. Misty

      March 7, 2014 at 12:56 pm · Reply

      Definitely confusing. They seem to change their minds every 10 years or so. And you're right, people in their 40s probably never had to worry about it when they were kids, they didn't start putting the chemicals in mattress until about the 1970's.

  2. Jen

    March 5, 2014 at 6:20 pm · Reply

    My daughter was a preemie and when she was still in the NICU the nurses would let her sleep on her tummy because she was more comfortable that way. At the time, though she was under 24/7 care and hooked up to more monitors than you can imagine. Once she came home we always put her to sleep on her back. She did start turning over once she was able to and there is nothing you can do about that!

    1. Misty

      March 7, 2014 at 12:57 pm · Reply

      Jen my son was the same way. He was born with low oxygen, nothing too serious, but still, they had him on his tummy while he didn't have the tank on his head. They just really seem to like tummy sleeping.

  3. Bonnie Gean

    March 6, 2014 at 12:34 am · Reply

    I let my baby sleep in the position she liked, but there were times when I was concerned that her nose was buried too deep in the blankets. She turned out okay, but this is something parents need to be mindful about because you just never know what might happen!

    1. Misty

      March 7, 2014 at 12:59 pm · Reply

      Bonnie I would have days like that too. I would go into my daughters room and see her face planted into the mattress and I would freak out and move her head...even at 4 months when she had full control of her head. We're moms...we worry. Parents definitely need to be mindful because like you said, you just never know.

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