This post is for new mums wondering what is the best sleeping position for babies. It includes information and links to the latest advice from The Lullaby Trust and NHS – I hope you find it useful…
What is the best position for baby to sleep?
The NHS advise that the safest sleep position for baby is on their back - this significantly reduces the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). You should do this from the very beginning for both day and night sleeps, and baby should sleep in the same room as you, in a basket or cot, for the first 6 months. Healthy babies placed on their backs aren’t more likely to choke.
This ‘Safer Sleep Position’ is demonstrated in the below video from The Lullaby Trust
Can babies sleep on their front? Is it OK for babies to sleep on their side?
No. New babies should always be placed to sleep on their back. This advice has been revised since the 1990s and the number of cot deaths in the UK has significantly declined
At what age can babies sleep on their front?
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) advise that you should put babies to sleep on their back until their first birthday. At this stage they will be able to sit without support and roll from their back to their front which requires “good head and trunk control”.
What if my baby rolls over while sleeping? What if my baby rolls on his or her side?
When your baby first starts to roll over or onto their side (usually 3-4 months) you should gently roll them back again. Once your baby is able to roll themselves completely over and back again on their own (usually at around 6 months) then it is no longer necessary to adjust their sleeping position. You can help your baby build muscle strength through supervised tummy time when they are awake
What if my baby rolls over while swaddled?
If you are swaddling your baby it is extremely important that you only do so when they are on their back. Babies swaddled on their side or front are at higher risk of SIDS. Once your swaddled baby starts to roll or turn over it is important to stop swaddling them immediately.
My baby was slept on her front in hospital, can my baby sleep on her front at home too?
Sometimes babies are slept on their fronts in hospital for medical reasons. During this time they will be under constant supervision. By the time your baby is allowed home they should be sleeping on their back. You should not put your baby to sleep on their front unless you have been advised to do so by a medical professional.
Can babies sleep on their front on your chest?
It is OK for babies to sleep on their front on your chest whilst you are awake, but babies should never sleep on your chest unsupervised (whilst you are sleeping).
My baby prefers sleeping on her tummy
If your new baby has already tried sleeping on their front and prefers it, you will need to teach them to sleep on their back instead. Persevere with putting them down for sleep on their back whilst they are awake and they will eventually adjust and change sleeping positions
If your baby is still struggling to adapt, you may want to try swaddling your baby. Swaddling is an age old practice used to help newborn babies settle and promote better sleep. Despite ongoing debate there is no conclusive evidence to suggest that swaddling correctly increases the chance of SIDS. To find out more about swaddling and the correct way to swaddle safely, read this blog post here – should I swaddle my baby, how to swaddle a baby and more
We hope you have found this blog post useful. If you are at all concerned about your baby's sleep position you should always speak with your paediatrician or NHS professional for further advice, there are also lots of great resources available at The Lullaby Trust.