What if my baby prefers to sleep on tummy?
Unless advised to the contrary by your doctor, it is best to let your baby sleep in a position she prefers. If baby doesn’t settle well, or stay on her back or side, front sleeping is all right. Also, you may find that your baby prefers different sleep positions at different ages. After all, there is a meaningful wisdom of the body, even in a baby. If a baby repeatedly doesn’t settle in a certain sleeping position, this may be a clue that this position may not be the safest for this individual baby. This is just one example of how babies often try to tell us what is in their best interest. Parents should not be afraid to listen.
Still, because of the new research, it is best to try to get baby accustomed to sleeping on her back or side. Newborn babies tend to get in the habit of sleeping the way they are first put down. The older babies get, the more resistant they seem to be to changes in sleeping position. Newly-born babies do well sleeping on their tummies, but they also do well on their sides, since both positions allow a baby to assume the fetal position, which is more soothing than back-lying. Thus, if you have been putting your baby down on her stomach and now wish to get her used to sleeping on her back or side, it may take some patient conditioning. If you’ve made a diligent effort to encourage back-sleeping and your baby still sleeps best on her stomach, let her, and don’t fear that she is going to die of SIDS, especially if the other risk factors are not present. Studies on large numbers of babies show a statistical increase in SIDS if baby does sleep on tummy, but your baby is an individual. The front-sleeping risk factor for SIDS doesn’t mean that you should worry every time you place your baby down to sleep. Just be sure to place your baby to sleep on a safe bedding surface. After all, over 99.9 percent of tummy-sleeping infants wake up every morning.