Safe Sleeping Part 2: Baby’s sleeping position

The safest position for babies to sleep in is on their backs.

Babies who sleep on their fronts are at the highest risk of dying from SIDS.  Some parents choose to sleep baby on his side using a wedge or safety sleep to stop baby rolling on to his front.  Side sleeping carries a reduced SIDS risk to front sleeping but is still not as safe as back sleeping.

 Some key points about back sleeping are:

  • Babies sleeping on their back are less likely to choke on vomit than babies sleeping on their front.
  • If your baby can roll over, start them on their back.  If you notice them on their front check that they are comfortable, their face is clear and they are breathing well. If they will be sleeping again unsupervised, gently roll them back onto their back. The early days of rolling are the highest risk time for SIDS but one of the biggest things you can do to reduce this risk is to give your baby lots of tummy time when they are awake to strengthen their neck muscles.  This gives them the strength to move their head to a comfortable position when they are on their front.
  • There are a variety of commercial sleeping devices such as wraps and wedges, which are touted to parents as reducing SIDS risk.  Many parents find these useful for a variety of reasons but please note that they have not been proven to reduce SIDS risk.
  • It is a genuine (cosmetic) concern that back sleeping gives baby a flat spot at the back of their head.  This is because babies’ skull bones are very soft and can be moulded by pressure i.e. from a baby sleeping in the same spot.  But don’t be too worried, bubs will not be teased at school for their ‘flathead’ – just alternate the direction baby’s head is turned at different times (e.g. “Right at night and during the day, the other way…”). Lots of tummy time on the floor (under supervision) or upright time against your chest can also help reduce pressure on the back of the head. If you are concerned about the shape of your baby’s head talk to your GP or to your plunket nurse.



Posted on July 25, 2011, in Safety, Sleep and Crying. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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