Sleeping Positions For Infants

By Charles Murray

Parents can use several methods to get their babies to sleep on their backs, the sleeping position most recommended by pediatricians. The American Academy of Pediatrics reports that the risk of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) is lower for infants who sleep on their backs. Even though parents may find that their babies do not prefer this sleep position, several things can be done to help encourage babies to fall and stay asleep on their backs.

When developing safe and healthy sleep habits, one of the first things parents can do is to place their babies to sleep on their backs before they have actually fallen into a deep sleep. Parents who snuggle with or rock their babies until they are sleeping soundly, then place them in cribs, do not help their babies learn how to fall asleep on their own. Babies who are used to being held when they fall asleep will have a more difficult time when they awake at night to drift back to sleep on their own, and as they get older, this situation will continue.

Many times parents feel that their infants do not appear as comfortable sleeping on their backs, squirming and fussing more often in this position. Parents can gently and slowly rub the baby's tummy while the baby is falling asleep on his or her back. This gentle touch can calm a baby, and let him or her know that Mom or Dad is near, without actually holding them. Parents can also decorate the ceiling or wall where the baby can see them with glow in the dark decals as something else to distract babies as they fall sleep.

Babies who have not been burped may also have a more difficult time sleeping on their backs. Parents should make sure that babies have been adequately burped, are in a dry diaper, and are dressed so as to be too hot, to help them be as comfortable as possible as they sleep.

Several products have been on the market throughout the years to aide infants in side sleeping, as guidelines for safe infant sleeping positions originally stated that side and back sleeping were just as acceptable for reducing the risks of SIDS. More recent studies have shown, however, that side sleeping does not work as well at lowering the risk factors, in part because babies can roll to their stomachs more easily when already placed on their sides. Some parents have used rolled towels or blankets as means of supporting a baby sleeping on the side, but most pediatricians will not recommend this, as it is recommended to remove all loose blankets, toys, and other items because of the SIDS associated risks with having them in the crib.

As infants grow and develop they will eventually be able to roll from their backs to their stomachs while in their cribs, and parents can?t monitor this throughout the night and constantly place the babies on their backs again. However, parents can follow other safe sleeping habits as well. Parents should keep the crib free of toys and loose blankets, place the crib or cradle away from window blinds, make sure the baby is not dressed too warmly, and make certain there is no exposure to cigarette smoke (while asleep or awake).

Infants with special health needs might require specific sleeping positions recommended by pediatricians. For sleeping habits, as well as with other health topics, parents should always speak with their pediatricians first. For most babies, placing them on their backs to sleep is the safest position, and parents can try several approaches to help their babies learn to fall asleep in this position and sleep soundly at night.

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