An infant left to sleep in the wrong position can increase the risk to SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome) which is why it is vital to know the good and bad sleeping positions of babies. The condition in children is brought about by suffocation or strangulation. If you have a baby at home, you must be familiar with the recommended sleeping positions for infants and those that can increase the risk for SIDS which claims lives every year.
Almost 80% of cases of sudden and unforeseen deaths among infants are brought about by SIDS. Remember that the most effective technique to reduce the risk is to ensure that a healthy baby, less than a year old will sleep on its back.
What are the bad sleeping positions?
Before we take a look at the recommended sleeping position, let us take a glimpse first on the bad sleeping positions.
Sleep on stomach position
The sleep on stomach sleeping position is considered unsafe due to the following reasons:
- The position might place some pressure on the jaws of the baby, blocking the airways which makes it hard to breathe.
- When an infant sleeps on his/her stomach, the baby lies with his/her face close to the sheet, making him/her breathe the same air. As a result, your baby is breathing in recycled air which is deprived of oxygen.
- If a baby is sleeping on his/her stomach on a very soft mattress, it can lead to suffocation. There is a higher risk of breathing in the exhaled air since the face of the baby is driven deeper into the soft fabric of the mattress. This will block the airways from all sides.
- Since the nose of the baby is close to the mattress, the baby can inhale any microbes present in the sheet, thus leading to allergies.
- Switch the direction of the infant in the crib so that he/she will not view the same things in one direction alone.
Sleep on the side position
The sleeping on the side position is not also suggested for infants. In most cases, the infant is likely to roll-on to their tummy while asleep which increases the risk for SIDS.
Sleep on the back position as the safe sleeping position
The sleep on the back position for infants is considered as the safest and recommended sleeping position for the baby. It is the highly suggested position for infants since it keeps the airways open.
The position is also recommended for short naps as well as for sound sleep during the night.
Are there risks with this sleeping position?
Babies who are lying on the same back position for an extended time might end up with positional plagiocephaly which is a case of “flat” head or “brachycephaly” which is a case of flat back.
Luckily, these are temporary and the shape of both the back and skull of the child is restored to normal once the baby turns one and hardly necessitates treatment. Some techniques can help avoid these conditions such as:
- Ensure more tummy time when the baby is awake
- Turning the baby on the sides while awake
- Reducing the time spent in car-seaters or carriers
Now that you are familiar with the good and bad sleeping positions of babies, it can help lower the risk for SIDS.
For some parents, getting a newborn to sleep on his/her back might seem impossible since babies seem to fall asleep better when on their side or stomach, especially if curled up on the chest of a parent.
Luckily, once your baby will get used to this safe baby sleeping position over time.