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Taking Your Baby Home
by Robert M. Selig, M.D., FAAP & Joann C. Cozza, D.O., FAAP

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3: What Is The Best Position For My Baby During Sleep?

Parents and other caregivers should now put babies to sleep on their backs and not on their stomachs. This is because recent studies have shown an increase in SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) in infants who sleep on their stomachs.

Although babies placed to sleep on their sides have a lower risk of SIDS than those placed on their stomachs, the back sleep position is still the best position for infants from one month to one year. Babies positioned to sleep on their sides should be placed with their lower arm forward to help prevent them from rolling onto their stomachs.

Studies have shown there is no evidence of an increased risk of choking since there has been a switch from babies sleeping on their stomachs to babies sleeping on their backs. Many parents place babies to sleep on their stomachs because they think it prevents their baby from choking on spit-up during sleep.

SIDS is the diagnosis given for the sudden death of an infant under one year of age that remains unexplained after a thorough investigation has been completed. Because most cases of SIDS occur when a baby is sleeping in a crib, SIDS is also commonly known as crib death.

SIDS is the leading cause of death in infants between one month and one year of age. Most SIDS deaths occur when a baby is between one and four months of age.

 

Recommendations:

  • A comfortable temperature for your baby’s room is 68-70 degrees F. A comfortable room temperature for you is a comfortable room temperature for your baby.
  • Avoid overdressing your baby.
  • Parents should make sure their baby sleeps on a firm mattress. Infants should not be placed to sleep on a waterbed.
  • Quilts, blankets, comforters, or other similar soft materials should be loosely tucked in around the crib mattress and should not be placed under your baby during sleep.
  • Keep stuffed animals, toys, and pillows out of the crib when your baby is asleep.
  • A certain amount of “tummy time” while your infant is awake and being observed can be helpful for your baby’s motor development..
  • Awake time on the stomach may help prevent flat areas from developing on the back of your baby’s head. These flattened areas are temporary and will disappear soon after your baby begins to sit up.
  • If your baby has gastroesophageal reflux or certain upper airway problems, your doctor may recommend that your baby be placed to sleep on his or her stomach. These medical conditions may increase choking or breathing problems if your baby is sleeping on his or her back.
  • Never allow anyone to smoke around your baby.
  • If you are unsure about the best sleep position for your baby, it is always a good idea to talk to your baby’s doctor.

 

The above information is adapted from: The American Academy of Pediatrics Task Force On Infant Sleep Position and SIDS and National Institute of Child Health and Human Development’s “Back To Sleep” Campaign.

 

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