Erin Taylor

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Baby Is Sleeping Face Down

When you search for baby photos on the Internet or have photos taken of your newborn, one pose appears to stand out.

I'd bet what you see in each photo is that the baby is sleeping face down.  The infants seem to be sleeping in bliss, giving the impression that babies sleep on their belly as well as when they are on sleeping on their back.

Unfortunately, most pediatricians would advise parents to turn their child over when their baby is sleeping face down because this sleeping position can be dangerous. Still, there has been some confusion as to whether or not is it okay for babies to sleep on their belly. 

sleeping baby

Unexplained Death

One of the fears a new parent has is that their baby might experience Sudden Infant Death Syndrome or SIDS. More commonly known was “crib death,” SIDS is the number one cause of death in the United States of babies who are between one month to one year old.

baby sleep with face down

 While there is no proven cause for SIDS, medical experts believe that SIDS may be associated with the part of the infant’s brain that controls breathing and arousal from sleep.  As such, parents are discouraged to lay their sleeping baby on their belly because a baby is sleeping face down will have more difficulty breathing.

In 1992, the American Academy of Pediatrics suggested that babies should be placed on their backs when asleep and since then, the rate of deaths due to SIDS has significantly decreased.

Contradictory Practice

baby-sleeping-baby-baby-girl

A study that appeared in Pediatrics 2002 claimed that preterm infants in intensive-care nurseries were often placed on their stomachs. Neonatal nurses will explain that the babies sleep better when on their tummy. Also, they are less likely to develop a flattened head.

​​​​ Some medical practitioners say that they can only advise parents of the risks, but at the end of the day, it is up to the parent, especially the sleep-deprived ones, how they will position their baby when asleep.

So, will it ever be okay if my baby is sleeping face down?

mother playing and taking care of her baby

Yes. By the time babies are five or six months (some even as early as four months), they will be able to roll themselves over.  With stronger neck, arm, and leg muscles, your 5- or 6-month old, will have unlocked a developmental milestone by flipping over to his belly from being on his back, and vice-versa.

When this happens, it would be okay if your baby is sleeping face down because he can change his sleeping position when he needs to. It is VERY important to keep this in mind the next time you have second thoughts about putting your sleeping baby on his back.

What are the benefits if my baby sleeps on his belly?

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There are really no proven advantages of this sleeping position for babies, if “proven” means tested and appears in medical literature. Nevertheless, here are some good things that can be derived from letting babies sleep on their stomach.

1.No Startle Reflex

Babies are born with several reflexes like the grasp reflex (which is cute because the first thing babies commonly grasp is their parents’ finger). The Moro reflex, also known as the “startle reflex,” is another obvious one wherein babies just suddenly reach up and outwards, especially when they are asleep.

Supposedly, this reflex can be traced back to when our ancestors’ babies pulled themselves up to cling tighter to their parents whenever they feared that they were falling.  

When a baby is sleeping face down or on its side, the occurrence of the Moro reflex is decreased because the baby’s arms and legs are closer to its body. Swaddling is also known to help if you are not comfortable laying your sleeping baby in these positions.

2.Longer sleep time for baby

This reason can be associated with the first reason. Because the baby is less likely to be startled awake, he will have the tendency to sleep longer. Babies need quality uninterrupted sleep so that they can develop and grow.

As with adults, babies two sleep cycles: active sleep, wherein the baby’s eyelids flutter, and deep sleep, wherein the baby moves lesser and his breathing becomes more rhythmic. Being abruptly woken up during either one of the cycles would result to a cranky baby.

3.Rest for the weary parent

No one wants their baby to sleep through the night more than a new parent who keeps putting their cranky baby back to sleep. If letting the baby sleep on its stomach gives makes the baby sleep better, then parents would definitely consider this an advantage.

 They should make sure, though, to check on the baby frequently, especially if their baby is still too young to turn over by himself.

Again

Little cute baby sleeping

When you’re baby is sleeping face down, don’t panic right away. It’s perfectly normal because that’s how they were made to sleep at the beginning anyway.

However, as with other movements and actions you see, it is always better to be safe. So observe and monitor your baby as often as possible. This is not just for your baby’s safety but also for your own sanity.

How To Change Diapers

Congratulations on your new bundle of joy! I know being a mom for the first time is full of questions, worries, and concerns. How do you do this and that? What if it’s like this and that?

I totally feel you. That is why here I am sharing what I can with you, so you don’t have to grope in the dark.

This time, I am telling you how to change diapers be it the disposable or the cloth one. I know that this is usually a source of dread because our little angels are very fragile at this time, but it’s also most of the times funny.

So just relax, follow these steps, and you’ll be alright.

6 Room-sharing Tips You May Not Know About

Co-sleeping, as I’ve previously shared with you, has several benefits. However, this topic usually raises an eyebrow, especially here in our beloved land of the free.

The primary reason for that is there’s a risk of parents rolling over their baby. This is why a journal concluded that “A substantial reduction of SIDS rates could be achieved if parents avoided bed sharing.”

Let me clarify, though, that co-sleeping doesn’t always have to be bed sharing. There is another method known as room sharing.