Why does baby like to sleep on his stomach?
Over the weeks with your newborn you will notice that he falls asleep better and seems peaceful when he is on his stomach, often lying against you. A habit that surprises you, considering of all the recommendations about sleeping on your back. Indeed, for some babies sleeping on their stomach has two advantages:
- Being on their stomach allows them better intestinal comfort, especially in babies with colic. Support and warmth have a massage effect which can offer them temporary relief.
- After spending 9 months in their mother’s womb, the prone position recalls this feeling of support perceived during pregnancy, it reassures them.
Nevertheless, despite this observation, it is officially recognized that the prone position is dangerous for the infant from birth and leaving the maternity ward. Installing baby on the stomach for bedtime is therefore not recommended at all.
Why should babies not sleep lying on their stomach? What are the risks ?
In the past, it may seem crazy, but it was recommended to position your baby on your stomach for the night. However, we now know that this habit was and remains dangerous for infantssince before several months, they are simply not unable to turn their heads and lack the necessary muscle tone.
“The main risk on the belly in the first months of the baby is a risk of burying and chokingquite simply” recognizes Marine Lhomme, childcare worker. “In the first months of life, baby does not control his head, and he has no not enough muscle strength of his neck, shoulders and back, to free his face if it burrows into the mattress” she continues.
The second risk is a risk of hyperthermiaespecially if it is hot because on the belly it is even more difficult for a baby to regulate your temperature.
In both cases, these are possible factors of sudden infant death syndromeWhere unexpected infant death syndrome. In addition, experts from the Haute Autorité de Santé have also found that the risk of sudden death dropped 75% in France since pediatricians and other health professionals advise all young parents to put their children on their backs as soon as they leave the maternity ward, thanks to the danger prevention program.
According to the Haute Autorité de Santé (source 1) it is therefore recommended from birth to put a baby on his back to avoid any risk of sudden infant death syndrome. A position on the side is not recommended either since baby can roll over on his stomach without being able to straighten his head.
Important recommendations which must also be associated with a sleeping area which will be free from all danger:
- With a firm mattress (which does not sink), if possible in natural material, and the exact size of the bassinet or cot (especially not smaller).
- If baby sleeps in a travel cot, we do not add a mattress topper for more comfort, which increases the risk of choking.
- We don’t give no blanket, no pillow, no bumpernor a big comforter for a baby in the first months of life, again in order to avoid the risk of suffocation or that baby can burrow without being able to move his head.
- We also ensure that the baby sleeps in a room at the ideal temperature, either between 18 and 20 degreesespecially in very hot weather, when possible.
- Finally the followers of co-sleeping must opt for a bassinet to stick to their bed and not sleep with their baby.
Can a baby wedge be used to prevent an infant from rolling over?
The intention is based on a good feeling, but baby wedges and head wedges are not recommended to help baby stay on their back. Indeed, just like accessories, comforters and blankets, they add an additional risk to baby’s sleep. Better check the position yourself of the baby.
It seems to you that baby only sleeps on the stomach? That he is better in this position? This is not a reason to give in, the prone position being too risky. On the other hand, you can probably bring him comfort giving it your full attention and staying in close proximity.
If baby is prone to colic, or if he seems inconsolable, he has very often need the presence of his parents by his side. Do not hesitate to install it on your stomach yes, but on you, against your chest, or in your arms, while it calms down or falls asleep. You can also do this skin to skin, it’s even better.
Once asleep, you can finally put baby gently on his back in his bed.
Put baby on the stomach: only during the day and under supervision
Some parents worry that their child will suffer from a flat head from lying on their back. In this case, at only a few months you can place your baby on your stomach yourself on his playmat for example. But exercise should be done only for a short time and always under supervision.
At what age can a baby sleep on his stomach without risk?
The risk of sudden infant death syndrome decreases with age and the tone of the child. “You can let a baby sleep on his stomach without fear as soon as he is strong enough to turn one way and then the other, and he turned himself during his sleep. It happens often around 7 – 8 monthsbut here again it is above all a notion of ability rather than age” supports the childcare worker, specifying however that it is better to put him on his back… and that baby will do as he wants.