When is it Safe for a Baby Sleep on Their Stomach?
Research shows that putting your baby to sleep on their back carries the lowest risk for SIDS, or Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. Parents should always put their baby to sleep on their back. But, at some point, you might find your baby sleeping on their stomach after you put them to sleep on their back. So, when is it safe to do so, and why should you care?
What is SIDS?
SIDS is the sudden, unexplained death of a baby under 1 year of age that often occurs during sleep or in the sleep area. No known cause of death can be found even after a complete investigation.
Facts about SIDS
- SIDS is the leading cause of death among babies between 1 month and 1 year of age.
- Most SIDS deaths happen in babies between 1 month and 4 months of age, and the majority (90%) of SIDS deaths happen before a baby reaches 6 months of age. However, SIDS deaths can happen anytime during a baby’s first year.
- Slightly more boys die of SIDS than girls.
Keep Your Baby Safe During Sleep
So, what can you do to keep your baby as safe as possible while they sleep? Place your baby on their back for all sleep times, both naps and at night. Keep their sleep area simple. A firm mattress with a fitted sheet is all you need. No blankets, pillows, bumper pads, or stuffed animals. Have your baby sleep in the same room as you for at least the first 6 months and up until your baby is 1 if possible. While doing these things does not eliminate the risk of SIDS completely, it greatly decreases it. For more tips on how to keep your baby safe during sleep, check out what the CDC has to say.
What About Tummy Time?
Every baby needs safe, supervised tummy time every day, throughout the day, from the time they are born! Start with a few minutes at a time, multiple times a day. Gradually increase the amount of time your baby is on their stomach each session.
When Can Baby Sleep on Their Stomach?
Always put your baby to sleep on their back. But your baby may start to roll onto their stomach at night between 4 and 6 months of age. To be most safe, your baby should be rolling over from back to stomach AND from stomach to back consistently before you start leaving them on their stomach to sleep. If they aren’t rolling intentionally AND consistently but somehow end up on their tummy while sleeping, then yes, you need roll them back over onto their back. To learn more about helping your baby learn how to roll, check out our Rolling gross motor milestone blog.