What Are the Risks of Baby Sleeping Face Down?

Have you seen your growing baby starting to roll over and sleep on his or her tummy? If so, then I guess what your main concern is now – is it actually safe? It’s normal to be worried about your baby’s safety and that is what we are going to discuss here.

The goal of this port is clear – we are going to look into the different risks related to baby sleeping face down. Is is dangerous? Should you be worried? The answer is YES. Read on and find out more about why you should be extra on letting your baby sleep in that position.


The Risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome

cute baby sleeping face down

As per a study conducted by the Washington University School of Medicine, babies who do not sleep on their tummy have lower risks of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). Senior author of the study, Dr. Bradley T. Thack, a pediatrician at the St. Louis Children’s Hospital, mentioned that babies sleeping face down the experience a 19-fold increase in risks of SIDS.

The Nature of the Research

Thack and the colleagues studied 38 infants between the age of 3 and 37 weeks. About 50% of babies typically turn during the sleep. In this research, a moderately asphyxiating surface was used. This means that there was a comfortable used over a foam mattress with 2-inch deep circular depression.

When babies turn and sleep face down on the foam surface, they could easily re-breathe the air. Note that this air already high in carbon oxide. To measure a number of carbon dioxide levels inhaled by babies, a catheter is taped right beneath the noses of these infants.

In the study, all 38 babies awoke after 4-5 minutes of sleeping with their face down and attempted to get fresh air again. Those babies with experience sleeping prone managed to get a supply of oxygen-rich air. However, those inexperienced infants simply nuzzled the comfortable and resumed sleeping.

The Finding of the Study

The finding suggests that even when babies are already capable of lifting their heads, this is not the assurance that they can protect themselves from getting suffocated when they tend to sleep with their face down. In addition, the study indicated that SIDS may also likely result from the insufficiently learned responses on airway protection.

Also, the researchers also suggest that parents and caregivers should never intentionally place a baby in a prone position not until he or she is already able to spontaneously turn all the way back. In short, back-sleeping still remains as one of the best ways to protect babies from SIDS.

The Tale of a Similar Study

A similar study linking SIDS to sleeping in a prone position was also performed in Australia in 1993. The study was featured in a news article published by New York Times. The study conducted by Dr. Ponsonby in Tasmania, Australia, also highlighted the effect of the awareness campaign on the number of SIDS or Crib death.

After the campaign of warning parents against placing their babies in the prone position while sleeping, the incidents of crib death has dropped to 1.7 from 3.6 deaths in every 1000 live births from 1990-1991. During the same period, another survey also discovered that there were only 8% of babies sleeping facing down from the previous 33% during the same year.

How to Avoid Prone Sleeping Position in Babies

cute newborn babt sleeping face down

With the results of several studies pointing out the link between the prone sleeping position and SIDS or crib death, it is imperative for parents to be extra careful in ensuring that babies sleep in the safest position possible.

In one study performed by Spiers and Guntheroth, one of the intervention programs conducted in the US is the launch of a national campaign to raise awareness and educate parents of the risk associated with prone sleep position during the early infancy.

A worldwide campaign that has also been around for one decade has helped reduce the cases of SIDS by as much as 50%. The campaign, aptly called ‘Back to Sleep’ has helped many parents understand the potential risks of sleeping face down.

Another campaign that is designed to increase awareness of the safe baby sleeping position and its connection to SIDS is ‘Safe To Sleep’. This is a public education campaign which was initiated by Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.

Moreover, there are certain products that can be used to prevent the infant from rolling and sleeping with their face down. Wedge pillows, for instance, can be used in cribs on in bed. Anti-roll pillows are another option to make sure that babies do not roll or slide in bed, keeping them safe while at sleep.

There are also sleep positioners that you can use. When opting for this item, choose the one with sufficient space and that comes with velvet and high-quality materials to maximize comfort. Improving the overall sleep environment for your babies can immensely help.

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Here’s An Important Advice for All Parents

It is important to be reminded of the importance of proper sleeping positioning especially for babies to reduce the risks of SIDS or crib death. The recommendation of allowing babies to sleep on their back applies to the first year of life and is particularly important during the first half since this is when the SIDS incidences are at the highest.

In addition to sleeping on the back, the sleep environment of the babies must also be kept be checked all the time. The mattress should be equipped with the safest bedding and the crib must be completely toy-free throughout the first year. Moreover, the use of sleep positioners should be considered as well.

It would also be immensely helpful to be abreast with information on how to maximize the safety and health of babies. It is my fervent hope that I was able to provide relevant and useful information about the safe baby sleeping position. Feel free to share it, moms and dads!

Lily Hayes

Hello and welcome to my blog. My name is Lily Hayes. I am a strong-willed woman who believes that motherhood is the greatest experience in this world. More...

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