The sleeping position determines, to a great extent, whether Your Child has a safe and sound sleep. There are three positions that babies take while sleeping: on the stomach, on the side, and on the back. In the first 12 months, only one is recommended.
Sleeping on the stomach
There are several reasons why stomach-sleeping is discouraged:
- The baby may breathe in microbes present on the mattress
- It could put pressure on a baby’s jaw, reducing the airway and restricting breath, which increases the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)
- The baby may suffocate if the mattress is very soft
Before 1991, the advice many parents got was to let their babies sleep on the stomach, which is why some older generations still think that this is the best. However, extensive research has since shown that the chance of sudden infant death syndrome is up to 12 times higher when babies sleep on their stomachs. The new advice, such as sleeping on the back, resulted in a massive reduction in SIDS. Only in rare cases, due to medical conditions, do doctors advise parents to let their babies sleep on the stomach.
Sleeping on the side
Babies are quite different from adults, so sleeping on the side, especially on one particular side, may affect their wellbeing. Health issues can include Harlequin color change, Torticollis, flatheads, and the risk of choking. There is also the possibility that a baby sleeping on the side turns and eventually sleeps on the stomach.
Sleeping on the back
Sleeping on the back is the best position for babies because it was found to reduce the risk of SIDS in babies — it keeps their airways open.
Since the American Academy of Pediatrics made the ‘back-to-sleep’ recommendation in 1992, the SIDS rate has dropped by more than 50%. The ‘back-to-sleep’ recommendation was later campaigned as ‘safe to sleep’.
In other words, babies with no particular health conditions should be always placed on their backs for naps and sleep at night.
Ketsupa Jirakarn (Mental health specialist) (31 March 2021)