I have a four-month-old who, up until now, has slept on her back just fine. But now that she can turn over, she often flips in the middle of the night. I know that sleeping on the back is important to prevent SIDS. What should I do?
It’s been proven that placing an infant to sleep on her back lowers the child’s risk of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome). In countries where there have been “Back to Sleep” campaigns advising parents to place their infants on their backs at bedtime, SIDS rates have fallen 30 to 50 percent.
Yet, remember that this is only a statistical correlation. It does not mean that if your baby sleeps on her tummy she’s going to die of SIDS. Current SIDS rates are around one in a thousand babies; meaning that there’s a 99.9 percent chance your child will remain a healthy little girl regardless of her sleep position. And while the cause of SIDS is still unknown, there is strong evidence that it is the result of an at-risk baby having an immature breathing- regulating system that fails to restart the breathing process when the baby is in a deep sleep. In fact, many SIDS researchers believe that a baby will naturally assume the sleep position that allows them to breathe more comfortably during the night. If your baby habitually flips over onto her tummy after you put her down to sleep on her back this may be the right sleeping position for her. If you want to be completely safe, however, you might want to try staying with your baby until she falls asleep; then turn her onto her back when she’s in a deep sleep.