Sleep is an important part of your newborn’s life. In fact, most newborns spend more time sleeping than awake during a typical day, though their average 16 hours of daily sleep is usually broken up into three- or four-hour increments. While your baby’s sleep time is a great time to sneak a shower, run the dishwasher or a grab a nap for yourself, it’s important to be sure that you’re putting your baby to sleep in the right position.
The best sleeping position for healthy babies is on their backs, notes the American Academy of Pediatrics. The best way to put your infant to sleep is on a hard mattress, flat on his back.
Babies who sleep on their backs significantly reduce their risk for Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), according to the Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital at Stanford. In fact, SIDS-related deaths have decreased by as much as 50 percent since doctors started recommending back-sleeping in 1992, according to KidsHealth.
Researchers aren’t sure why back-sleeping reduces your baby’s risk for SIDS, but they speculate that stomach-sleeping increases carbon dioxide rebreathing, which can eventually lead to suffocation because babies may not wake up enough to move their heads. Another theory speculates that infants are more likely to have their breathing obstructed when they are sleeping face-down.
In addition to putting your baby to sleep on her back, you should take other measures to ensure safe sleeping. Don’t put your baby to sleep with any loose blankets or soft pillows or stuffed animals since these can be a suffocation risk. If your baby needs a blanket, wrap her snugly or tuck her into a blanket snugly fitted around her mattress at the end of her crib.
If your baby has health issues, talk to your pediatrician about the best way to put her to sleep. Though back-sleeping is recommended for most babies, some medical conditions make other sleeping positions preferable, explains KidsHealth. If you have questions about your baby’s sleep habits, talk to your doctor.