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  Baby Sleep – Position:
Although the nurse at the hospital recommended that my baby always sleep on her back, my mother-in-law is really concerned that I am doing the wrong thing. She says the baby can choke on her back, and that on the tummy is safer and helps with wind as well. Can you help me to clear up this confusion?

When you were a baby you probably were put down on your stomach. That was the way things were done in those days. However, because of the research which has shown a close link between babies who sleep on their stomachs and a risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome ( also called Cot Death), the advice you will get from all health workers is that it is safer for babies to sleep on their backs.

Research has also shown that, contrary to what your mother-in-law believes, babies are not of a higher risk of choking on their backs than on their fronts. They are also less prone to a wide range of infections and generally healthier.

Generally babies are content to sleep on their backs, especially if they have slept that way from day one! A very few babies do get unsettled on their backs. A tiny baby’s uncoordinated arms and legs do tend to move around when they are asleep and can wake a baby with a fright. Generally swaddling should solve that problem by making them feel snug and secure, and keeping those limbs tucked away safely!

Some mothers complain about the bald spot that tends to form on the backs of the heads of babies who sleep on their backs all the time. Babies tend to look at the same spot near the cot when you put them down to sleep. If you lay the baby down her head at the top of the cot one time, and then put her down next time with her head at the foot of the bed, this should help the bald spot problem to some extent.

Because we do not put our babies down to sleep on their tummies any more, it is important that they spend some time of every day on the stomach, but they must be supervised. Learning to lift the head up from the bed while on their stomachs is an important skill for a baby to learn, and vital in developing strong back muscles. However, there are babies who really object to this position. It is no point in upsetting the baby. Instead you will have to be inventive and creative in encouraging baby into this position. You could make a game of it, lie on the bed with your face next to baby, or put a favorite toy in front of baby. This may distract her from the despised position for long enough for her to find it comfortable. Ideally your baby should spend time in this position every day, so start with a short time and try and extend the time just a little every day.

See also:

Baby Sleep - Compromise

Baby Sleep - Controlled Crying

Baby Sleep - Cot in parents’ room

Baby Sleep - Doing it your way

Baby Sleep - Overtiredness

Baby Sleep - Own Room

Baby Sleep - Sharing Mother’s Bed

Baby Sleep - Teaching baby to sleep
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