Messenger The safest place for your baby to sleep is in their own cot in the same room as their parents or adult caregivers. Sound scientific evidence tells us babies should always be placed to sleep on their back, never on their side or stomach. But what if your baby rolls on to her stomach in her sleep? Should you turn her back over?
I asked baby sleep expert Andrea Grace if she thought new parents were getting too hung up on all this. He was so loud in his sleep it worked better for us. There is little to you can do to influence any of that.
Why is back sleeping so important? Studies have also identified the side sleeping position as unstable, and many infants are found on their tummies after being placed to sleep on their side. Babies who have been born preterm are at increased risk of sudden death.
Arousal from sleep is a physiological protective mechanism that is widely believed to be deficient in infants who succumb to sudden and unexpected death. Brief arousals from sleep increase blood pressure, heart rate and breathing rate.
Studies in babies have shown placing a baby on their tummy not only makes them much more difficult to rouse from sleep, but also lowers blood pressure and the amount of oxygen available to the brain. But careful study of the baby airway has shown babies placed to sleep on their backs are less likely to choke on vomit than when on their stomach. When on the back, the upper respiratory airway is above the oesophagus digestive tract. What is infant reflux and will it get better?
What if my baby rolls over in her sleep?
Babies start to learn to roll over from back to front as early as four months. Babies should always be put down to sleep on their back. But once your baby can roll from back to front and back again on their own confidently, they can be left to find the position they prefer to sleep in this is usually around five to six months.
If babies cannot yet roll from front to back, then they should be turned onto their backs if parents find them asleep on their tummies. Devices such as wedges and positioners, which are promoted as keeping babies from rolling over, should never be used, as they can be a suffocation hazard.
There should be nothing in the cot but your baby and any safe bedding to keep her warm. An important note on wrapping or swaddling If you wrap or swaddle your baby for sleep , this needs to be adjusted for the age of your baby.
Don't believe the hype: This allows the baby access to their hands and fingers, which promotes self-soothing behaviour while still reducing the risk of the baby turning onto the tummy.
However, do not force a dummy on a baby who does not want one. Could he open the window and fall out?
Wrapping and swaddling should be discontinued as soon as the baby shows the first signs of rolling over. A wide range of infant care products designed as infant swaddles, wraps and wearable blankets have proliferated on the market. This is possibly because they delay the baby rolling onto their tummy and eliminate the need for bedding in the cot.
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