How to Get a Baby to Sleep on Its Back
Whether you’re still pregnant and are setting up your baby’s nursery or your little bundle has already arrived, you’re probably spending a lot of time thinking about how you’ll get your tot to sleep.
Of course, you want your baby to sleep soundly. However, it’s just as important that they sleep safely. For instance, it’s essential to put babies to sleep on their backs during their first year where possible. Lying your baby down in that position is one of the best ways of making sure they drift off as safely as possible.
Smart, safe sleep practices like this can help protect infants from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) and other sleep-related hazards, so it’s vital for every new parent to become familiar with safe sleep routines.
But don’t let that bundle of joy turn you into a bundle of worry. Trust us, we know how difficult overcoming sleeping issues can be, but it’s never too late to develop better habits to help your tot get a safe, restful night. With over 30 years of combined experience here at CuddleCo, we are rapidly on our way to becoming the nation’s Sleep Specialist for your little one.
What is the Best Sleeping Position For Your Baby?
It’s true: back sleeping is best when it comes to babies.
Putting babies to sleep on their back is definitely the safest sleeping position for them, as opposed to sleeping on their tummy. This is because stomach sleeping increases the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) and suffocation. It’s the risk of tummy sleeping that also makes placing your baby on their side to sleep a big no-no at this stage: It’s easier to accidentally roll from side to tummy, even for babies that aren’t yet rolling over intentionally, than it is to roll from back to tummy.
It's not known why some babies die suddenly and for no apparent reason from sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), or cot death. NHS experts do advise that placing a baby to sleep on their back reduces the risk.
The risk for SIDS is highest in the first three months, but it can happen at any time up until the age of 1 year. If your baby is able to roll over — generally by about 4 to 6 months of age — the high-risk period for SIDS has usually passed. Side sleeping can also be safe as your baby grows and gets stronger. You’ll find your baby gets more and more active during sleep as they near their first birthday — which, thankfully, is also when a lot of these sleep-position worries go away.
How to Encourage Your Baby to Sleep on Their Back?
Does your baby fuss when you put them down to sleep on their back?
While it’s by far the safest option, as we have seen, it’s not always what baby likes best. Some babies seem to fuss less on their stomachs, perhaps because it feels more secure to cuddle up against the mattress. But it’s important to start your baby on back sleep early. That way they’ll get used to and feel comfortable in the position from the very beginning.
Rest assured, however, that in time your infant will get used to this safe baby sleeping position. Here’s how we recommend help your baby feel more comfortable sleeping on his back:
- Transition your baby to the cot slowly- having been cradled tightly in the fetal position; many babies find being laid on their back on a firm surface alarming, even though we know it is safest for them. You can help your baby with this transition by giving them lots of time snuggled against your chest in these early days. Gradually introduce time on their back while sleeping in your arms, and after breastfeeding lying on your bed beside you.
- Let your baby fall into a deep sleep before putting them down - when your baby falls asleep during a feed, don’t hurry to transfer them to their cot. That early sleep is light REM sleep and is easily disturbed. Enjoy a cuddle with your baby for around 20 minutes, until they transition into the deeper, quiet sleep cycle. Then you can lay your tot down on their back with less risk of them waking.
- Take baby steps - if your baby falls asleep on their tummy or side, then let them do so under your supervision. Once you think they are deeply asleep, ease them over onto their back. As they get used to this, you may be able to move them once they become drowsy, rather than waiting for deep sleep.
Now take a deep breath and look away from the baby monitor for a minute or two. You’re doing a great job even if your baby isn’t a natural-born or serene back sleeper.
Sleep Safety Tips For Your Tot
While encouraging your little one to sleep on their back is a key way of ensuring their safety and comfort, our experts also recommend other safety precautions you can take, in addition to their sleeping position, to protect your baby whilst they snooze:
Opt for a firm sleep surface. Purchase a safety-approved cot mattress, covered by a fitted sheet, and avoid placing your baby down for sleep on soft surfaces, like pillows, quilts, and sheepskins.
Keep the sleeping area clean and clear. This means minimal soft objects, toys, pillows, blankets, quilts, sheepskins or crib bumpers in the baby’s bed.
Keep your baby’s sleep area near but separate. While your infant can sleep in the same room as you, they should not sleep in a bed or on a couch or armchair with adults or other children. Instead, your baby should sleep in a bassinet, cot, cradle or a bedside co-sleeper.
Monitor the temperature in your baby’s room. In other words, not too hot or too cold. And never place your infant near air-conditioning or heating vents, open windows or other sources of drafts.
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