The first twelve months of a newborn’s life are known to be the most fragile. Apart from the numerous infections, allergies, and conditions they may develop, they are also at risk of sudden infant death syndrome or SIDS. Sleeping on the tummy is believed to be one of the causes of SIDS.
Is It Safe For Baby To Sleep On Stomach?
It is theorised that a baby in the first twelve months of their life should not sleep on the stomach because they re-breathe their own air. This makes them breathe recycled air which contains less oxygen and reduces the functionality of the lungs. This can lead to SIDS. Thus, one risk of the baby sleeping on the stomach is fatality due to a lack of oxygen. It is recommended by doctors that parents be cautious not to let a baby sleeping on her front stay so for more than a few minutes.
When Can Babies Sleep On Their Tummies?
According to The American Academy of Pediatrics, the number of fatalities due to SIDS has reduced by 50% because the newborns have been directed to sleep on their backs for at least a year. This allows their respiratory system to strengthen and develop naturally. They can breathe in more oxygen, thus reducing the risk of SIDS. Even after a year, it is best to ensure that the babies do not sleep on their tummies for long durations.
What If My Baby Loves Sleeping On Stomach?
It is important to understand that a newborn does not have the motor skills required to turn onto their belly for the first four months. Once the baby does begin to turn over, it is essential to monitor the baby and their health especially during the time they spend on their belly while awake. Sleeping on the belly must be avoided at all costs for the first year of their lives. A newborn baby’s body has not yet developed the capacity to manage re-circulation of oxygen. The excessive carbon dioxide that is circulated back into the baby’s system when they sleep on their belly can prove fatal. If your baby cannot sleep on its back, contact a paediatric physician immediately.
If Your Baby Rolls Over On To Her Stomach, Should You Worry?
Studies conducted by KidsHealth show that most cases of SIDS occur during the first year of a newborn’s life – a majority of those cases being between two to six months. Babies with naturally lower body strength tend to roll over by the sixth month. This has its benefits, as babies who spend time on their bellies after the first six months while awake can build upper body strength to lift their heads off the ground faster.
Warning: It is essential to monitor the child during this period as SIDS is still a natural risk. Do not leave your baby on their belly unsupervised.
If your baby rolls both when awake and asleep, it could be safe as long as it is after the first six months. This still requires monitoring and precautions. After the first six months, if your baby rolls onto their belly when sleeping, it is critical to remove any impediments to air circulation. This means there should be no blankets, stuffed animals, toys, etc. inside the crib with them. Consult your doctor and take required precautions so that your baby rolling over in sleep doesn’t cause problems.
Baby Sleeping On Belly: Safe Sleeping Guidelines
There are multiple ways to ensure your baby is safe and well rested and that your baby’s sleeping position on the stomach doesn’t cause any harm.
- Use a firm mattress: Using a firm mattress will ensure that your little one gets all the support she needs. Do not put her down on a pillow, waterbed, couch or any other soft surface as it may encumber the quality of the air she breathes in. Experts also recommend that you do not place anything inside the crib while your baby sleeps.
- Remove bumper pads: These accessories are quite common and almost every crib will come with the option of having the pads fitted. However, it is recommended that you avoid installing these in your baby’s crib as they can be a suffocation hazard.
- Don’t let your baby become too warm: Knowing the ideal temperature for your baby to sleep in can be daunting. However, if you feel comfortable in the room in short sleeved clothing, then the temperature is ideal. It is generally recommended to keep the room temperature between 23 and 25 degree Celsius.
- Avoid covering the baby’s head: The light blankets you use for your baby should only cover her up to her chest with her arms outside the blanket. This ensures that the blanket doesn’t shift towards the baby’s head.
- Use a pacifier: These devices can be a great tool to calm your baby enough to let her get superior quality sleep. However, if she is uncomfortable with it, or if it falls out while she sleeps, do not force it.
Tummy Time When Your Baby Is Awake
While sleeping on the belly is not recommended for babies, it is imperative that they lie on their bellies while they are awake. Use a firm and rigid surface with a mat on it to lay your baby on her stomach. According to Karen Sokal-Gutierrez, M.D., M.P.H., babies need to lie on their stomachs while they are awake as it lets them build upper body strength and helps them breathe better while sleeping.
Do not stress your baby with this activity. Lay her down only for three to five minutes at a stretch in the beginning. You can later increase the time as your baby gets used to it and builds the right strength for it.
Conclusion: A newborn baby can sleep most of the day. This is only interrupted when the baby needs to feed. This crucial part of an infant’s development should be managed with extreme care and caution. Ensure you speak to your primary health care physician and paediatric specialists for a thorough list of dos and don’ts of sleep habits for your baby.