New parents have unending concerns about their child - A huge one being the safest, most protective sleeping position for their baby?
The supine position, which means sleeping a child on his/her back, is undeniably the safest sleeping position for a baby. Substantial global evidence shows that sleeping a baby on their back in the beginning of their sleep/nap, be it night or day, largely lowers the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). The supine sleeping position is therefore much safer than placing babies to sleep on their side or on their tummy.
IMPORTANCE OF ROUTINE
To ensure your child gets used to sleeping on their back, it’s good to put this into practice right at the very start. It’s best that for each ‘day time’ nap or a full night’s sleep, parents put the child down on his/her back, thus setting a sleep pattern that isn’t deviated from. It has been observed that the babies made to sleep on their backs, when suddenly sleep on their front or side on the off-chance, are at a greater risk for SIDS.
Once babies manage to move back to front on their own, they discover their own comfortable sleeping positions. When the child rolls on to his/her stomach the initial few times, parents would need to gently turn them on their backs. It is alright to allow a baby some time to play on his/her tummy when he/she is awake, as this contributes towards better growth and development. However, do ensure the child is never left unsupervised when they are lying on their front.
Premature babies: Babies born prematurely are put in neonatal care and it is possible they are made to sleep on their fronts in the neonatal unit. However, this is purely for medical reasons, and it’s important to remember that kids in neonatal units are under constant surveillance. Once the child is back home, their sleeping position should be switched to supine, as the initial treatment requiring a different sleeping position is done.
However, babies may find it difficult to adjust from a sleeping position they’ve been used to, so it is best to consult a paediatrician on how to seamlessly break the habit. Front sleeping should be continued only if medically recommended by the paediatrician.
Choking worries: Some parents are concerned that sleeping their baby on the back could pose a risk of the child choking on his/her own vomit. However, there is no empirical evidence to support this, and it is common knowledge now that babies are a lot safer sleeping on their backs.
Reflux concerns: As mentioned above, babies should be slept on their backs unless medical advice suggests otherwise. In case a baby suffers from reflux or some other ongoing health issue, it is wisest to get advice from the paediatrician about the best care for them.
Extra sleep equipment: Unless advised by a health professional for any specific medical condition, no extras like rolled up blankets, etc. are needed to keep the baby in a position. It is perfectly safe for the baby to be in his/her bed, with their blankets and sheets only as necessary. Skip any extras that may get pulled over the baby’s face or cause other accidents.
With these basics on how to best sleep your little bundle of joy, we hope to have put at least some of your anxieties to rest!