Baby Sleeps With Hands Behind Their Head

Are you trying to uncover why your baby sleeps with hands behind their head? 

Welcome to the parenting club, where you look at your baby’s actions and question everything, even when they’re sleeping.

Sometimes it is something cute; other times, it’s an action you can barely understand. 

Like their sleeping positions. Why are they sleeping with hands behind their heads? Is this okay?

Should you push them back or allow the baby to sleep just as they like it?

Despite your baby looking more adorable in that posture, could anything go wrong?

Your concern is justified; babies are more likely to die from sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) when they sleep with their hands being them, compared to sleeping with hands by the side.

Why Your Baby Sleeps With Hands Behind Their Head

1. Your baby has come up with the sleep position

You can sleep in many possible ways with your hands at a different position about your body.

But, like adults, babies too get bored of one sleeping position and experiment with a new position to maximize comfort and get better sleep. 

If you find your baby sleeping in this position, understand that they are seeking better sleep and if you want to change it for safety reasons, ensure that they are comfortable sleeping.

2. It’s a sign of comfort

Like you’d enjoy a sunny afternoon at a beach, probably that’s the same feeling your baby is heading in their bed.

Since babies can’t use pillows due to the suffocation risk, they might resort to using their hands to support themselves for comfort. 

However, as the American Academy of Pediatricians advises, baby sleeps with hands behind their head is dangerous to your baby.

The slight tilting of the head kinks the trachea a bit, making breathing more difficult.

In addition, since babies cannot turn over, they are likely to be hypoxic, suffocate and die from SIDS.

3. The sleep position is a reflex

When babies are in the womb, they reflex react to noise or light. T

he reflex extends their limbs, toes, and fingers and stretches their neck and spine. If your baby is below six months, they probably have not yet lost the reflex. 

The baby will react to noise and light during sleep by extending the limbs and neck; thus, the hands will find their way to the head.

Once they relax, the hands will remain above the head, and the baby will continue sleeping in that position.

If your baby is more than six months and still has the Moro reflex, contact a pediatrician to test if the baby has hit the milestone and sort out any issues.

However, preterm babies will have more prolonged reflexes by approximately the time they spent before term.

4. It’s commonplace for babies to sleep with hands behind head.

Infants can only sleep on their backs till their bodies develop to allow them to roll.

Therefore, sleeping with hands behind the head is the least unpopular adult sleeping position. However, it’s the only option that infants below four months have. 

Therefore, your child sleeping with hands behind their head confirms that they are infants.

As long as your child is sleeping safely in the crib, enjoy the sleeping position while it lasts.

Soon enough, they will be able to roll over and attain adult sleeping positions.

Read a related post: Baby Sleeps Face Down On Mattress

Should it worry you?

Probably not. Sometimes, babies sleep with hands behind their heads because they are comfy or trying it out.

However, it doesn’t rule out that you shouldn’t watch where and how your baby sleeps.

This will help you reduce the chances of SIDS, which is quite common. 

Sleeping with head over hands poses a significant risk if done for long or as a habit.

If your child is used to the sleeping position, take the extra cautious step and train them to place hands by the side.


There is usually a reason behind why baby sleeps with hands behind their head.

Maybe it is Moro reflex, your baby has probably switched to the new sleeping position to get better sleep, get more comfortable, and it’s part of childhood sleeping positions.

However, sleeping with hands being the head is precarious since the baby has an increased chance of dying from SIDS.

Therefore, break the habit and train your baby to sleep with a straight head to reduce the kink on the trachea to allow for easier breathing. 


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