Should you be worried when the baby sleeps face down on mattress?
As simple as this question may appear to continue parents, new parents often get mixed up on what advice to adhere to.
The truth is, all the answers you get will depend on the baby’s age and other factors.
Either way, it’s important to note that tummy time (sleeping face down) is risky and a practice that parents ought to make their babies adjust to as they grow.
Baby Sleeps Face Down On Mattress; Is It Safe?
Tummy time is one of the risks behind SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome).
According to experts, babies that sleep on their stomachs are prone to SIDS compared to those laid on their backs.
In fact, research shows that tummy sleeping increases SIDS risk by 1.7% to 12.9%.
Usually, this sleeping position blocks the airway track of the baby’s system. Not only does it cause blockage, but it also makes the baby breath their own exhaled air.
This air contains low oxygen concentrations, which may eventually lead to suffocation.
Deprivation of oxygen in infants occasionally results in brain damage, causing cognitive disability, seizures, cerebral palsy, and other associated conditions.
There is a common myth that a baby may choke in a supine sleeping position (laying on the back).
Well, studies show that this is the safest sleeping position compared to tummy time.
1. When Can Babies Sleep On Their Stomachs?
Babies are prone to SIDS between the 4th-6th months after birth.
A newborn baby doesn’t have the motor skills to turn onto the belly for the first four months.
After this period, it is essential to monitor the baby, especially when they are awake. Ensure they are not sleeping on the stomach until they are at least one year old.
After one year, the baby is free to sleep on their stomach since they often roll about in their sleep.
2. My Baby Sleeps Better On His Side or Tummy. Should I Worry?
Babies may seem to be very comfortable while sleeping on their side or tummy, but this usually increases the risk of SIDS.
The only safe time to let your baby sleep on their side is when they are old and strong enough to roll over without anyone’s help.
Most babies can easily achieve this by the age of 4 months. But babies are different, and yours might not be strong or comfortable enough to roll on their own.
In that case, ensure you keep close attention to your baby and reduce the risk of SIDS.
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3. Should I Worry About Plagiocephaly When My Baby Lays On His Back?
Luckily, no. Plagiocephaly or flat head syndrome occurs due to the back sleeping position.
That’s because babies have a very soft skull after birth, and a constant sleeping position could lead to this.
But studies show there are no neurological disorders that arise from plagiocephaly. Instead, it causes the baby to have an abnormal head shape.
As your baby grows older, these irregular shapes could cause some functional problems, including;
- Eyeglasses fitting poorly
- A noticeable facial asymmetry
- Misalignment of the jaw, leading to under or crossbite
- They cannot have the proper fitting of safety equipment, like helmets
But this doesn’t mean that a baby should sleep on its stomach, especially when not under supervision.
What you can do is practice frequent rotation of the baby’s head to help avoid plagiocephaly.
There are easy-to-follow steps that experts recommend to help reposition the baby’s head. Alternatively, you can get your baby a custom-made cranial helmet.
You can also let the baby have some tummy time. However, this needs to be under your strict supervision.
The baby also needs to be awake. Some of the guidelines during tummy sleeping are;
- Using a firm mattress
- Avoid placing the baby on a soft material, e.g., pillow or a couch
- Do not place any objects in the crib while the baby is asleep
- Avoid covering the baby’s head.
When baby sleeps face down on mattress, it increases the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.
The best sleeping position for babies under one year is when lying on their back. Safe as this is, it can, however, cause plagiocephaly or flat head syndrome.
As you keep your baby safe by laying them on their back, ensure you change their head positioning or get a cranial helmet to keep their head from flattening.
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Mo Mulla is a work from home dad who enjoys reading and listening to music, He loves being a dad and husband to a growing family. He also loves writing about his passions and hopes to change the world, 1 blog post at a time!
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