Many studies have shown that placing a baby younger than 1 year old
to sleep on his or her back is the most important thing parents can do to
reduce the risk of
sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). Since 1992, the
number of babies who sleep on their back has gone up (due mostly to the
national "Back to Sleep" campaign), and there has been a steady drop in the
Placing babies to sleep on their backs reduces the risk of SIDS. Side
sleeping was also recommended in the past, but it is much easier for babies to
roll to their stomachs from their sides than from their backs. Unless your
doctor advises otherwise, do not place your baby to sleep on his
or her side or stomach.
In rare cases, a doctor may recommend a different sleeping position
if your baby has certain health problems.
As babies mature, they learn to roll from their backs to their
stomachs. Babies who roll onto their stomachs during sleep do not need to be
continually shifted onto their backs. But always initially place them to
sleep on their backs.
When your baby is awake and someone is watching, allow your baby to
spend some time on his or her stomach ("tummy time"). This is good for the
baby's development and may help prevent flat spots on the back part of the
American Academy of Pediatrics (2011). SIDS and other sleep-related infant deaths: Expansion of recommendations for a safe infant sleeping environment. Pediatrics, 128(5): 1030–1039.
May 16, 2012
John Pope, MD - Pediatrics
& Chuck Norlin, MD - Pediatrics
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