As parent of new born baby and specially first time parent, you have to go through many questions and need to find out many answers. Some of the questions are "What is best position for baby to sleep?" and "How important for baby to sleep in one specific position?".
According to "The American Academy of Pediatrics", it is recommended that healthy infants sleep on their back. It is important for baby to sleep on back because that will reduce risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome(SIDC). SIDC is responsible highest number of infant deaths in United States during their first year. Researchers are not yet able to find exact reason for SIDC but studies have shown that it may be related to infants sleeping on their stomach. Because when your baby sleeps on stomach, he/she gets less oxygen and might not getting fresh air compare to them sleeping on their back. In studies, it is also found that some part of brain was underdeveloped for babies suffered SIDC which again might be because of lack of oxygen to brain. So very clearly, it is recommended position to sleep for your baby is on back unless some medical condition or suggested by your pediatrics otherwise.
Some of the studies also found out that chances to develop ear infections, stuffy noses, or fevers are less than babies sleeping on their stomach.
American Academy of Pediatrics recommends sleeping position on back since 1992. Since then, SIDC has been declined more than 50%, and that itself give strong support for recommendation.
It is recommended position to sleep on back not only for babies but for any age. But for baby, it is more important during first year, to reduce risk of SIDC syndrome as well as better brain development.
Are their any risks for baby to sleep on back position?
Babies tend to throw up fluid while sleeping and one of the concern or question for parents is if baby will choke if sleeping on back. Studies have shown there are no choking risks for baby as they automatically swallow or choke up fluids.
What if your little one feeling uncomfortable to sleep on back?
There is no need to panic and few things you can try as parent to encourage your baby to sleep on back.
- Swaddle your baby - this will give security and comfort that your baby is craving for sleeping on back. Make sure room is having proper temperature to avoid overheating as that can be another risk factor for SIDC.
- Use pacifier - Give your baby pacifier. This will help your baby for soothing. It will keep your baby busy until go to sleep. For babies, back position is best position to use pacifier, so this will also avoid babies to roll over. Avoid forcing pacifier to your baby, they might not be comfortable using it. If you are breastfeeding, wait for that to be well established before giving pacifier usually around 3 to 4 weeks.
- Ease your baby - Help your baby to sleep and then slowly transform to the crib and put your baby on back. Some infants go to sleep quickly by gentle rocking, walking, patting on the back.
- Hanging toys on crib - This will encourage your infant to sleep on back. Avoid any toys inside crib, those toys or pillows can be risk as choking hazard or airway obstructions. You can use crib organizer to keep everything outside of crib and in organized manner.
- Use baby monitor - As parent, it is too much to expect to check every hour if your baby is sleeping in back position or not. Use baby monitor with night vision to easily monitor your baby.
- Be regular with routine - Although, it needs patience, be persistent and regular to create sleep routine to sleep on back. Eventually your baby will get used to this position.
- Use soft music - This will also help baby to go to peaceful sleep.
- Talk to your pediatrics - If you are still struggling with this, talk to your pediatrics to understand if there is something encouraging your baby to sleep on stomach.
What else to take care of to avoid SIDC syndrome?
- Avoid placing pillows, quilts, comforters, sheepskins, bean bags, or any other objects which blocks airway.
- Avoid infants to be sleep on waterbeds, sofas, or soft mattress. Place hard mattress inside crib.
- Don't place baby's bed near air-conditioning or heating vents, open windows, or any other source of drafts.
- Always talk to your pediatrics if you have any questions.
To conclude, it is recommended for your baby to sleep on back and there is no evidence of any risk for your infant to sleep on back. While sleeping on the back is important, your baby should also spend sometime on stomach to help developing shoulder muscles and her head control, and to avoid the development of flat spots on the back of head.