Baby Sleep On Side

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Do you have trouble getting your infant to sleep through the night? Is your child always turning over and finding a more comfortable position on its side? To lower the danger of SIDS, babies should generally sleep on their backs, but if they can turn onto their side and feel more comfortable there, it is usually safe to do so. However, there are definitely risks and dangers to consider, especially in very young children. It's crucial to provide a secure sleeping environment and to speak with a doctor if you have any concerns. To learn more about the dangers and factors to take into account when a baby sleeps on its side, read on.

TL;DR

Side sleeping is a safe and beneficial sleep position for babies, but only when they have become old enough. It is preferable and safest for newborns to sleep on their backs.

  • Injury, SIDS, or suffocation can result from your baby sleeping on its side or stomach.
  • For naps and nighttime, all newborns should be placed on their backs.
  • As your baby develops and gets stronger, sleeping on your side can also become safer, but this takes time.

Learn more about how side sleeping can affect your baby and how to know when they are old enough to do it safely.

Why is a baby’s sleeping position so important?

Is the wrong sleeping position dangerous?

Can it lead to SIDS?

When can a baby sleep on their side?

The wrong sleeping position can be very dangerous for babies, so it is crucial to ensure your child remains on their back when sleeping. Side or stomach sleeping can lead to SIDS and may increase the risk of suffocation in babies as well.

In this article, we’ll discuss letting baby sleep on side. You’ll find out when you can start allowing your child to sleep on their side if they feel more comfortable in this position, and you’ll also learn more about the risks associated with side sleeping during the first few months of your baby’s life.

With this information, you can feel more prepared to figure out your child’s sleeping habits and patterns safely from day one.

Read on to find out more about the risks of having an infant sleep on side.

Can My Baby Sleep on Her Side?

In this section, we’ll discuss the basics about babies sleeping on their sides. You can use this information to come up with questions you might want to ask your pediatrician regarding your baby’s sleeping position, and you can also learn more about what to look for in your baby’s sleep.

Can baby sleep on side safely?

Not at first. Babies who are younger than four months of age should never be allowed to sleep on their sides or tummy. For the first four months of life, your baby should only be positioned on their back when sleeping, and you should gently reposition your child if they roll onto their sides while asleep.

What do experts say?

Experts say that babies should not be allowed to sleep on their backs. This is very dangerous and should be avoided as much as possible for the first several months to one year of your infant’s life. There are many health risks associated with side sleeping in babies, and the less your child is allowed is sleep in this position, the less likely they will be to suffer any problems related to side sleeping. Experts work hard to educate new parents on this matter.

Can older toddlers and kids safely sleep on their side?

  • Yes. After one year of age, you don’t have to necessarily position your baby on their back when laying them down anymore. From the age of 1 and onward, your child can sleep in whichever position is most comfortable for them safely.
  • If your older toddler or child is complaining of pain or has muscle stiffness when waking up, however, they may be sleeping in a position that is causing some harm. In this situation, you might need to talk to your pediatrician for more information and suggestions to help your little one sleep soundly while staying in the correct position throughout the night. This is not fatal, but it can cause your toddler or child to suffer from painful muscles.

What are the risks if you help baby sleep on side?

  • SIDS: Sudden Infant Death Syndrome is associated with babies suffocating due to sleeping on their stomachs. This option is the leading cause of death in babies under one year of age in the United States.
  • Flat head: Babies who sleep on their sides may develop a flat head on the side they favor. This is not dangerous and will fade with time, but it can be reduced with back sleeping.
  • Torticollis: Also sometimes called a stiff neck or “crick in the neck,” torticollis is basically a sprained neck muscle that prevents mobility. This offer can happen to children (and adults) at any time, but it is very common in babies of up to three months of age. Although not fatal, it can be painful.

At what age is it okay to start allowing your child to do this?

  • Ideally, you should not let your baby sleep on their side until your child reaches one year of age. At one year, babies are usually developed enough that they will not suffocate if they roll over onto their stomachs while sleeping, so slide sleeping is a much safer alternative by this point.
  • However, some babies simply refuse to stay on their backs while sleeping. In cases like this, it is okay to start allowing side sleeping every now and then when your child is four months old. You should never encourage side sleeping at four months, but if your baby naturally rolls onto their side while sleeping after this age, it is okay.

What position is best for babies when sleeping?

  • Sleeping on the back is the safest position for babies, by far. Remember that “back is best” and you should always place your baby down to sleep on their back. This will reduce the risk of your child trying to roll over during the night in many cases.
  • The most dangerous position for sleeping babies, on the other hand, is the tummy. Babies should never be allowed to sleep on their stomachs as this can be a major contributor to the risk of SIDS in infants.

Conclusion

Did you learn something useful about babies who sleep on their sides? As you can see, there is not much to worry about if your child is over one year of age and naturally flips onto their sides while sleeping. And if your little one is over four months of age, you can usually rest assured when this happens, too. However, in babies who are much younger, you should never allow or encourage your child to sleep on their sides, as this can be very dangerous and potentially lead to SIDS.

Do some babies still sleep on their sides even after they have been positioned on their backs? Absolutely—and yours may be one of them. This is not very uncommon, and many babies simply cannot sleep if they’re forced to stay on their backs. This may be related to indigestion or could simply be a natural preference.

But if your baby is a natural side-sleeper, is there anything that can be done to help? Can you stop your child from sleeping on their side, or do you have to just spend the first year worrying? Here are some tips to think about:

  • Swaddle your baby for the first few months. Until your baby can roll over on their own, swaddling your child will help them stay on their back while sleeping.
  • Always use a firm crib mattress. You should never use a mattress that is soft enough for your baby to leave an imprint when laying on it.
  • Do not place any bumpers, toys, blankets, pillows, or clothing in your baby’s crib. These are suffocation risks.
  • Use a video monitor. This way, you can tell at a glance if your child is sleeping on their side, and you’ll be more aware of any potential hazards as well.
  • Gently turn your child onto their back when necessary. If you see your baby start to move onto their side while sleeping, quietly and gently turn your child onto their back again instead.

Tips To Keep In Mind for When Your Baby Enjoys Side Sleeping

  1. Generally, it's recommended for babies to be at least one year old before allowing them to sleep on their side regularly.
  2. Although it's impossible to stop your baby from turning onto her side or stomach as she sleeps, you can make sure that she always goes to bed on her back.
  3. If your little one rolls onto their stomach or side, gently put return them to a back-sleeping position.
  4. Create a soothing environment for your baby by keeping the room dark, quiet, and at a comfortable temperature.
  5. Check on your baby periodically throughout the night to make sure they are still positioned safely.

ALSO: Your baby's crib shouldn't have any extra bedding, bumper pads, blankets, cushions, or stuffed animals during the first year. Keep your little one sleeping safe!</p


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Laticia J. Ferraro
Editor-In-Chief
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About The Author

Laticia J. Ferraro works at BabyNeedsRest as Editor-In-Chief, specializing in content related to infant care, parenting and baby sleep research. She has been fascinated with baby sleeping research for as long as she can remember and has a great deal of enthusiasm and passion for the topic. Laticia has previously worked as a research assistant, an editing assistant, and a ghost writer for various other publications online. She is presently working on BabyNeedsRest on a regular basis, as well as on her own parenting article content across the web.

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