When Is It Ok for a Baby to Sleep on Their Stomach?

As baby ages, they tend to want to sleep independently. Generally, once your baby can roll over, it’s safe for them to sleep on their back. If a baby can’t roll over, you should always put them to sleep on their side.

When your baby is first born, it’s common for them to have different sleeping positions. But when is it OK for a baby to sleep on their stomach?

It’s safe for your baby to sleep on their stomach from twelve months old. This means that you can put your baby down to sleep on their tummy while in a crib or co-sleeper.

You can’t use a pack ‘n play, bassinet, or swing as a crib from the age of 1. Babies have better muscle control by this age and can turn themselves over if they roll onto their tummies while asleep. Until then, it is safest for your baby to sleep on his side.

Benefits of Babies Sleeping On Their Stomach

Here are some of the benefits of babies sleeping on their stomachs:

When Is It Ok for a Baby to Sleep on Their Stomach?

1. Helps Develop Better Digestion

Babies who sleep flat on their tummies have less reflux or indigestion issues than those who sleep flat on their backs. Babies who are given formula will have less gas, bloating, and constipation if they are allowed to sleep in this position.

This is because gravity helps move food through their digestive tract more efficiently and prevents acid reflux from happening as easily as when babies lie flat on their backs.

2. It is a natural sleeping position

Stomach sleeping is the most natural position for infants and other mammals. The majority of mammals sleep on their sides or bellies, using their hands to keep their faces out of direct contact with the surface they are lying on.

3. Easier respiration

The baby can breathe easier when sleeping on his belly. The back is a natural curve that allows free breathing. The neck is in a straight position which may cause breathing difficulties for your baby.

If you put your baby to sleep on his back, he can choke or suffocate if he vomits while asleep. The stomach is flat, and it’s not easy for the baby to turn over while sleeping, so they stay still most of the time while sleeping on their stomachs.

4. Safer for flatheads

Flathead syndrome is common in newborns since most of them are born with an “occiput posterior” presentation.

The flat head syndrome occurs when the baby spends more time in one position than another and becomes flattened by gravity over time. When babies sleep on their tummies, they can naturally rotate onto either side.

Is It Safe for Babies to Sleep on Their Stomachs?

Yes, it is safe for babies to sleep on their stomachs but not earlier than a year old. Babies lying flat can get enough oxygen to breathe properly through the mouth and nose. This is because the airway stays open when they’re lying flat. 

But when they’re sleeping on their tummies, gravity can pull the tongue down into the throat and block off one or both of these pathways, especially if they have reflux or allergies that cause them to snore at night. Also, when they sleep on their stomach too early, they are at risk of SIDS

What Happens When Baby Start Sleeping on Stomach Too Early?

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that babies sleep on their backs to reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). But what happens if your baby starts sleeping on his tummy too early?

SIDS

Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) is the leading cause of death for babies between 1 month and 1 year of age. The exact cause of SIDS is unknown, but it is believed to occur when a baby stops breathing because his or her brain is deprived of oxygen.

If your baby was younger than 3 months old when he began sleeping on his stomach, he has an increased risk of SIDS. It’s not a good idea to allow your infant to sleep on his stomach until he reaches at least 12 months.

Re-breathing

Babies who sleep face down may have problems with re-breathing their carbon dioxide (CO2). This happens because they have a small airway, which can become blocked if mucus or saliva flows back into the throat while they’re sleeping. This can lead to decreased oxygen levels and serious respiratory problems in babies who are less than 3 months old.

Over-heating

Overheating can happen if your baby sleeps on his or her belly for an extended period (more than 2 hours). This can be a problem because babies have underdeveloped muscles in their heads and necks, so they cannot control the temperature of their heads very well.

Suffocation

Suffocation is one of the most dangerous consequences of putting your baby to sleep on his tummy too early. When he sleeps in this position, his face sinks into the bed and blocks his nose and mouth. This leads to a lack of oxygen supply to the brain, which can cause brain damage or even death.

Upper Airway Obstruction

When babies sleep on their stomachs, they tend to turn their heads toward one side. This results in obstruction of airways which leads to suffocation and death.

What to Do When You Notice Baby Sleeping On Their Stomach Too Early

So what can you do when you notice your baby sleeping on his stomach too early? Here are some tips:

Don’t freak out. This is normal if your baby is sleeping on his belly and he’s happy and healthy. Don’t panic and think something is wrong with him if you see him sleeping like this occasionally. However, if he’s doing it more often than once in a while, try these tips below:

Make sure he has enough room in his crib or bassinet to turn over onto his side or back without hitting anything else in the crib. Also, make sure there are no gaps between the slats so he can’t get stuck between them and suffocate if he rolls over onto his tummy while sleeping.

Can You Put Your Baby Down on His Stomach?

Yes, you can put your baby down on his stomach as long as he is at least a year old. This means that you can safely put your baby down to sleep on his back when he is 1 year old.

At that point, you can try putting him down on his tummy for naps. During the day, try to keep him on his tummy as much as possible. This will help strengthen his muscles and improve his motor skills. It will also promote deep sleep, which leads to better mental and physical health outcomes.

Bottom Line

If you are wondering how best to get your baby to sleep on their stomach safely, then consult your pediatrician first. Their advice is dependent on the child’s unique growth and development milestones.

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