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SIDS and Bellysleeping

Updated on September 17, 2012

Yesterday, my daughter, Shannon, was completely miserable all day. At first, I thought she had constipation and I tried a few things to help her; I put a little extra water in her bottles and massaged her tummy. She was fine... then I figured it was gas that's been keeping her cranky for days. I put her on her stomach on her lion playmat and she fell right to sleep. She hadn't been constipated and she may have been a little gassy but I think she was mostly tired and that was the problem. So here comes the question... is it safe for infants to sleep on their stomachs since SIDS has been linked to stomach sleeping?

I have done a little research and asked a lot of moms, so here goes. This is not medical advice nor expert advice but I know a lot of moms and their babies are still alive and well. Overwhelmingly, everyone (but one so far) said that they started their babies on their tummies weeks or a month or two after birth since that was the only way they could sleep. Also, a friend said her pediatrician said it was fine once your baby has pretty good neck control. My mom said my brother and I never slept on our backs, since in the time, they were told to lay babies on their stomachs to sleep. How did an entire generation survive sleeping on their stomachs if SIDS is link to sleeping on their stomachs?

I read somewhere that the cases of SIDS have gone down 50% since they started instructing parents to lay babies on their backs to sleep. SIDS peaks in prevalence between 1 month and 4 months (which coincides with head and neck control). I have a theory, it totally makes sense too. Maybe, since SIDS doesn't have a certain cause or signs after death, they were confusing SIDS with suffocation? In that case, one could start belly sleeping when head control was present and everything was cleared from the crib. SIDS, in reality, is very, very rare and unpredictable. The cause isn't completely known so they just try to keep you from doing something that, in the off chance, may trigger SIDS.

ALTERNATIVES to stomach sleeping if your baby is having sleeping difficulties in a crib or bassinet:

1) Try swaddling your baby on her back.

2) Sleeping in a swing may help a baby sleep more soundly.

3) A friend's advice was to roll up two receiving blankets and place them on each side of her while she is sleeping on her side to prop her up, they did it in the hospital for her daughter.

THINGS to try before putting baby on her tummy:

1) a sound machine with soothing sounds

2) take time to slowly wind baby down, rock her to the point of drowsy (not sleeping, or she may develop a pattern of only being able to sleep if rocked to sleep), try a feeding schedule that feeds her right before bed, make sure she is dry and clean for comfort, try a warm bath with lavender soap

3) gas drops if she's soothed on her stomach because of gas

4) laying her on her belly supervised for tummy time to encourage movement, which can help gas and constipation

5) massage her belly if it is gas/constipation related.

So what I've learned:

1) It is best to lay your baby down on her back to sleep, and HIGHLY recommended.

2) If you are going to lay your baby on her tummy, do so ONLY when she has good head and neck control.

3) Always keep the crib cleared of dibris; no pillows, blankets, or stuffed animals.

4) Use only a hard mattress and fitted sheets in the crib.

5) Try stomach sleeping during a nap with constant supervision.

I have not tried stomach sleeping yet, since I am a chicken. I have found that her swing helps her sleep rather well, it's 9:45 am and she's still sleeping in her swing. If that ever stops working I'll try swaddling then stomach sleeping. Laying her on her stomach helped her get her to release her built up belly troubles, too.

When did you start belly sleeping?

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      Jennifer 5 years ago

      Just what I've been told by my son's pediatrician... SIDS only affects 1% of babies who slept on their tummies; now that they are "required" to sleep on their backs, it is down to .5%. So yes, technically its gone down 50% but it is really only half of a percent. So it isn't something that is common to begin with. Belly sleeping is perfectly healthy and my son has ONLY slept on his tummy since he was 4.5weeks old. He occasionally rolls onto his side but thats about it. He wont sleep on his back at all. Good blog btw, i enjoyed this one :)