If you are about to welcome your baby into the world, you should be aware of the importance of baby sleeping positions.
During the first months after birth, your son or daughter will sleep for several hours (overall, up to 16 per day!), and that's why you should weigh up what baby sleep positions are better to ensure his or her development and, at the same time, to keep your baby from any risks associated with the way he's placed into the crib.
Don't be lulled into complacency and keep reading this article to provide your little one with a safe sleeping time.
Baby sleeping positions: What's the best option for the baby to sleep in?
Over the last decades, a significant number of studies regarding baby sleeping positions have been carried out with very positive outcomes. Experts have come to the conclusion that putting babies to sleep on their backs is the best way to prevent sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), which is responsible for more children deaths in the first world than any other cause during the babies' first year of life and once the newborn stage is over. In fact, reported cases of cot death have decreased in 50% since the research done in this field revealed that those babies who sleep on their stomachs are at a greater risk of suffering from sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
But why? Well, though such studies haven't been able to specify the exact reasons, they stand out that babies who sleep this way, on their tummies, are at risk of 'rebreathing': basically, getting less oxygen or not being able to release carbon dioxide properly, due to having a pocket of bedding pulled up around their mouths or noses. In addition to this theory, there's another one that aims at the risk of suffocation, especially when sleeping on soft mattresses or water beds. In contrast, placing your baby on his back to sleep doesn't interfere with the airflow.
Baby sleeping positions: Are there other recommended positions?
Though sleeping on the back must be the first option for your child, it can't just be the only one. When sustained over time, this position can cause plagiocephaly, a condition characterised by a flat spot on the back or one side of the baby's skull whose cases have increased in number over the last few years (probably, as a consequence of overdoing the 'back position'). That's why doctors recommend switching baby sleeping positions regularly.
You can try putting your munchkin to sleep on his sides, instead, though this alternative has both supporters and critics. The former state that having your baby sleep on his sides is as safe as doing it on his back, whereas the latter consider that it entails the risk of the child turning over and ending up on his tummy. However, it's also true that some 'tummy position' when the baby is awake can be very beneficial, as it can help strengthen his back muscles and boost his motor skills.
Additional aspects beyond baby sleeping positions
Besides making sure your child sleeps in the right position, there are certain tips that you can additionally use in order to set up the safest sleeping conditions and reduce the risk of cot death. For instance, try:
- Removing all the toys and mobiles from the crib, keeping your baby from choking on them.
- Investing in a firm mattress with a bottom made out of a solid piece, rather than slats.
- Not using bed plastic cover, which can cause suffocation.
- Making sure the bars on the side of the crib aren't wider than 6.5 cm, so that your baby's head doesn't stuck in between.
- Using thin pillows or no pillows at all to support the baby's head while he sleeps. 'Adult pillows' enable the danger of suffocation and, moreover they are not good for the child's back.
- Keeping the room where the baby sleeps at a temperature between 16º and 20º. At the same time, don't overdress your child, especially if he has a fever.
It's very important to highlight that smoking and doing drugs during pregnancy and the nursing period is proven to significantly increase the risk of cot death. By giving up such bad habits, you'll help reduce the chances of this fatality by 66%.
In conclusion, we can just remind you that caring about baby sleeping positions is essential to be ahead of any of the complications noted above, especially sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). The best thing to do is to combine different baby sleep positions (except the tummy one for sleeping) to favour your child's healthy development and, of course, to always give preference to the sleeping on the back position.