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When Can My Baby Sleep On Their Stomach?

In terms of when you can turn babies over, it's not when you can turn them over, it's when they turn over.  

Babies will start turning in bed by around four to six months of age. This marks a milestone in their development because their leg, trunk, arm, and neck muscles are getting stronger. Therefore, they're strong enough to reposition themselves into a safe sleeping position, even if they are on their stomachs. 

And you don't need to return them to their back. 

The more they roll over, the better because rolling over allows your baby to strengthen their neck muscles and gain better head control. 

Another way to strengthen their neck and shoulder muscles is with tummy time, where you place them on their stomach for a few minutes at a time. However, a baby should never be left in this position unsupervised.

As they get better head control, they can move their head so that their face isn't buried into the mattress. 

That being said, you may notice that your baby prefers to sleep on its stomach. However, don't actively start placing them on their stomach to sleep until they are at least one year old.  

The risk of SIDS decreases at age one. After that, it is OK for a baby to sleep on their stomach. By this age, babies typically have good head control and can move their heads around enough to don't suffocate.

If your baby is younger than four months old, keeping them safe while they sleep is as easy as ABC:

  • A: Alone. It may sound like a good idea, but you should never place pillows, quilts, comforters, toys, or other objects in your baby's crib while they sleep. The US Department of Health and Human Services reports that there's a chance these items can increase a baby's risk of SIDS due to suffocation by pressing up against the baby's face or overheating. No crib bumpers either. 
  • B: On their back. The safest position for a sleeping child under four months is on their back. At this age, babies who sleep on their stomachs are anywhere from 2 to 13 times more likely to die from SIDS, and babies who sleep on their side are twice as likely.
  • C: In their crib. In a 2013 systematic review published in BMJ, researchers found that children younger than three months old who shared a bed with their parents were five times more likely to die from SIDS. The risk was even higher when one or both parents were smokers, drank alcohol, or did drugs.

With a newborn, sleep position is fairly easy to control. If you put them on their back, they’re likely to stay there. However, there comes the point where you can’t control your baby’s sleep position anymore. 

They may start rolling over in the night, making it impossible for you to make sure they stay on their back. So when can you stop losing sleep over this problem? And at what age is it safe to put your baby on their tummy?

The highest risk of SIDS happens between one and four months of age. During this stage, your baby must sleep in the supine position, flat on their back. When your baby learns how to roll over, usually around six months, she may roll from her back to her belly during the night. 

When this happens, you should still put your baby to sleep on her back, but you don’t have to worry if she rolls over herself when you’re not around. (Again, make sure to leave any soft objects out of the crib.)

SIDS remains a risk until your baby is about one year old. Until then, you should always put your baby to sleep on their back. After that, you probably won’t be able to control your baby’s sleeping position, and it’s okay to allow them to sleep however they want to.

Baby Nursery FAQs

For a baby in her first year of life, back-sleeping is the recommended safe sleeping position. Sleeping on the stomach is a dangerous sleeping position because it can increase the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).

Your baby should not sleep on their stomach until one year old. They should always be placed on their back to sleep during the first 12 months to ensure a safe sleeping position.

Stomach sleeping is fine if your little one gets into that position after being put to sleep on their back in a safe environment — and after proving to you that they can consistently roll both ways. Before a baby hits this milestone, though, the research is detailed: They should sleep on their back.

Still, most pediatricians concede that when babies are placed on their stomachs, they tend to sleep better, they are less apt to startle, and they often sleep through the night sooner.

Studies suggest that stomach sleeping may increase SIDS risk through various mechanisms, including Increasing the probability that the baby re-breathes their own exhaled breath, leading to carbon dioxide buildup and low oxygen levels. Causing upper airway obstruction.

When Can My Baby Sleep On Their Stomach?

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4 Signs Your Baby Is Ready

Your baby will let you know when they’re ready, so here are some signs to watch for that are sure giveaways that your little one is prepared to sleep on their stomach.

Good Head Control

Before your baby can safely sleep on their stomach, they need to be able to hold their head up…and not just for a few minutes. Good head control means they’re holding their head up consistently.

This is important, so your baby’s airway doesn’t get restricted. If your baby is on their stomach, it poses a suffocation risk since they can’t move their head to open up their airway.

Once they have good head control, however, your little one can move their head in a safe way for them to breathe. (This is also why it’s so important to have a breathable mattress starting from day one!)

Rolling Over Both Ways

Rolling from back to tummy and tummy to back is one milestone your baby needs to master before they can sleep on their stomach.

This milestone is important to master because if they’re in an uncomfortable position where they could have trouble breathing, your baby can move themselves into a safe position.

One way to help your baby achieve this goal is by giving them plenty of tummy time during the day. This strengthens many muscles — like their neck and back muscles — that is important as they continue to grow.

Your baby is getting stronger by the day. Before you know it, they’ll be rolling over both ways! This is a good thing — don’t leave your baby unattended, as once they start rolling, they won’t stop.

If you leave the room for one second, your baby could roll across the room!

No Longer Using A Swaddle

Swaddles are great for keeping newborns tight and cozy...kind of like the womb. Our Organic Swaddle Blankets are versatile and perfect for swaddling your little one.

However, even though our swaddles are breathable, you should stop swaddling your baby when they start rolling over. Their hands are placed tightly by their side in a swaddle, so if they were to roll over, there’s no way they’d be able to roll back.

Note: Your baby should never sleep on their tummy while in a swaddle, no matter their age.

Rolling Onto Tummy In The Middle Of The Night

The last sign that your baby is ready to sleep on their stomach is when they’re already rolling onto their tummy while sleeping! It means your little one has mastered the skill to sleep in this position.

Again, always place your baby on their back to sleep until their first birthday, but if your baby is already rolling to their stomach, there’s no need to turn them onto their back.

What To Do If Your Baby Rolls Onto Their Stomach

Many parents lose sleep during the early days of their baby’s life, and not just because they’re waking up to feed them every three to four hours.

It’s normal to feel the need to check on your baby’s breathing patterns and sleep position throughout the night. So what do you do if you see that they’re sleeping on their stomach?

As long as your little one shows the four signs we mentioned above and is at least four to six months old, you can leave them in this position. (However, if you need to check in on them for your peace of mind, by all means, do so!)

If your baby is younger than four months old or not showing all the signs mentioned above, you’ll need to place them on their back again if they roll.

This is also why it’s important to have a breathable mattress, like the Newton Baby Crib Mattress. It is safe for your baby; it also provides you with peace of mind.

Additionally, many parents might be concerned about their child getting a “flat head” from lying on their back too much.

This is where tummy time comes into play. Your baby needs lots of it during the day, and tummy time helps round out your baby’s head if it does get a flat spot in the back.

Don’t let the possibility of a flat head stop you from placing your little one on their back to sleep!

Know About Your Baby Sleeping On Your Stomach

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Babies become milk drunk and pass out anywhere, like squishy, sleepy little angels.

It's the best snuggle in the world, but we were curious — is it safe for a newborn to sleep on my stomach? Experts advise against sleeping surfaces that aren't firm, and my stomach was far from firm, especially in the weeks after delivery.

With so many breastfeeding positions calling for a baby to be against your stomach, it's worth finding out if this position is safe. But if you're following safe sleep guidelines, you'll want to move your baby once they've passed out. 

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the safest place for your baby to sleep is on their back, on a firm sleeping surface, with no loose, soft bedding or objects like toys and blankets. The guidelines help prevent Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) and other crib-related deaths like suffocation. 

It's a terrifying thing to think about. Still, the back-to-sleep campaign has made a huge difference, and every pediatrician associated with the AAP will advise against your little one sleeping on top of you.

But if your baby passes out after a bottle or breastfeeding? Please don't feel as though you have to wake them immediately. Mom suggested holding your baby in a football hold rather than a "cradle" hold as the former is less cuddly and might keep your baby from falling asleep.

If your baby loves to snuggle and often catches up on their ZZZs by relaxing on your stomach, you can enjoy the snuggles, but be prepared to put the baby in their bed if their sleep takes longer than you think. It's too easy for them to roll off of your stomach or squeeze between your body and a bed or couch.

Also, if following the AAP guidelines, you should be sure that you remain alert while letting your baby sleep on your stomach. Bed-sharing or having your baby sleep on you is not recommended, but sleeping in the same room as your baby is. Soak up those tummy cuddles, then put your baby on a safe sleeping surface so both of you can get some rest.

A very important note about newborn sleep positions

One of the things that drastically increases the risk of SIDS is suddenly putting an infant on his tummy when he is accustomed to sleeping on his back. Research has found that this sudden change can dramatically increase risk.

Why is this important? It would be best to be firm and clear with anybody else who watches your child. Tell your mom, dad, brothers, sisters, daycare workers, and babysitters that you always want your baby going to bed on their back every time. 

Do not compromise and don’t feel guilty—this is well-researched and documented and will help keep your baby safe.

Baby Sleeping on the Belly: Safe Sleeping Guidelines

There are multiple ways to ensure your baby is safe and well-rested and that your baby’s sleeping position on the stomach doesn’t cause any harm.

  • Use a firm mattress: Using a firm mattress will ensure that your little one gets all the support he needs. Please do not put him down on a pillow, waterbed, couch, or any other soft surface as it may burden the quality of the air he breathes in. Experts also recommend that you do not place anything inside the crib while your baby sleeps.
  • Remove bumper pads: These accessories are quite common, and almost every crib will come with the option of having the pads fitted. However, it is recommended that you avoid installing these in your baby’s crib as they can be a suffocation hazard.
  • Don’t let your baby become too warm: Knowing the right temperature for your baby to sleep in can be daunting. However, if you feel comfortable in the room in short-sleeved clothing, the temperature is ideal. It is generally recommended to keep the room temperature between 23 and 25-degree celsius.
  • Avoid covering the baby’s head: The light blankets you use for your baby should only cover him up to his chest with his arms outside the blanket. This ensures that the blanket doesn’t shift towards the baby’s head.
  • Use a pacifier: These devices can be a great tool to calm your baby enough to let him get good quality sleep. However, if he is uncomfortable with it, or if it falls out while he sleeps, do not force it.

To greatly reduce the risk of SIDS, you should always place your baby to sleep on her back — whether it's for an afternoon nap or in the middle of the night, and whether she's at daycare, at Grandma's, or home. 

Babies who usually sleep on their back but are placed on their stomach occasionally (during a nap, for example) are especially high risk for SIDS. So make sure that everyone who puts your baby down to sleep knows that she should be placed on her back.

A side-sleeping position used to be considered an acceptable alternative for babies who don't like sleeping on their back. Still, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) no longer recommends it as a safe option. 

It may be tempting to place your baby on her tummy or side if she finds it soothing and fussing, but the increased risk of SIDS is not worth it, especially in the first six months of life. The peak age for SIDS is between 2 and 4 months, and 90 per cent of SIDS cases are in infants under six months of age.

You'll also want to make sure that you and anyone else who cares for your baby follow all the guidelines for safe sleeping to reduce babies' risk of SIDS, including using proper bedding, not overheating her room, and keeping her away from cigarette smoke.

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